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European Satellite Navigation System


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Europe's contribution to GNSS

GNSS Supervisory Authority

A myriad of possibilities
The programme
Programme phases, Technical features
Different actors in the programme
International co-operation
GALILEO - a global system
Brochures, Official documents, Technical  documents

Frequently asked questions...

...and their answers

  • What is satellite navigation?
    Navigation satellites broadcast signals which are used by a receiver to determine precisely its position, velocity and time. Satellite navigation systems support an unlimited number of users.

  • What is GALILEO?
    GALILEO is a global navigation infrastructure under civil control. It will consist of 30 satellites, the associated ground infrastructure and regional/local augmentations.

  • Why is there any need for GALILEO when we already have GPS?
    GALILEO will ensure European economies' from independence from other states’ systems, which could deny access to civil users at any time, and to enhance safety and reliability. The only systems currently in existence are the United States Global Positioning Service (GPS) and the Russian GLONASS system, both military but made available to civil users without any guarantee for continuity.
    Important macro-economic benefits will be derived from GALILEO, in particular through achieving a European share in the equipment market, efficiency savings for industry as well as social benefits e.g. through cheaper transport, reduced congestion and less pollution.
    Above that, with it's open service at least offering the same performances as GPS by the time of GALILEO's deployment, GALILEO will offer also value added services with integrity provision and, in some cases, service guarantees, based on a certifiable system.
    See also: The future of GNSS

  • Why should I pay for GALILEO, when GPS is free?
    Like GPS, GALILEO will be free of charge to basic users (open service). Some applications will have to be paid for - those requiring a quality of service which GPS is unable to provide. The GPS of the future could perhaps offer such services too, but there is no guarantee that they will be free, least of all if GPS would hold a monopoly. In any case, GPS will remain a system conceived primarily for military applications.

  • Will existing GPS receivers be able to use GALILEO?
    Negotiations with U.S. administration are currently focusing on the shared use of certain frequency bands. The future for the navigation receiver user should be seen in the combined GPS / GALILEO receiver that will be capable of computing signals from both contellations (GPS + Galileo).
    This will provide for the best possible performance, accuracy and reliability. However, since Galileo will not be available before 2008, current GPS-receivers will most probaly not be able to receive Galileo-signals. It remains to be seen if industry will be able to provide software-updates, for example. On the other hand, given the advance in technological development, today's GPS-receivers would probably anyway be outdated in 5 or 6 years from now. It should also be noted that, as GPS is foreseen to evolve, "old GPS-reveivers" will face the same difficulties with future upgraded GPS-signals.

  • What are the possible applications of GALILEO?
    GALILEO will be used in all modes of transportation for navigation, traffic and fleet management, tracking, surveillance and emergency systems. As such, GALILEO will be a key element of the future inter-mode traffic management system. Moreover it has many non-transport applications. For detailed information, see the applications section.

  • What are the macro-economic benefits of GALILEO?
    Recent studies put European macro-economic benefits through additional equipment, sales and services at tens of billion € during the service introduction and the first 15 years of operation. In these industries, GALILEO will create thousands of new jobs. Potential wider benefits result from the use of the system.

  • How is GALILEO to be financed?
    For the development phase (2002-2005), €1.1 billion ere being provided at equal shares by the European Union and by the European Space Agency. For the deployment phase (2006-2007), the Commission will also make provision for partial funding from the Community budget, and private funding will be provided by firms participating in the project. For the operational phase starting in 2008, the PricewaterhouseCoopers study anticipates gradually decreasing public funding until 2015; this will be an advance from the Community budget and not a subsidy, since it may be offset by the operator's revenues.

  • How is GALILEO to be managed?
    The development phase will be managed by the  GALILEO Joint Undertaking. The European Union, represented by the European Commission, and the European Space Agency are its founding members.

  • How to find employment in the GALILEO programme?
    There is unfortunately no list of open jobs "on GALILEO". By far the most jobs are within numerous private companies such as consultants, manufacturers of space components and others that either work on contracts with the Commission or ESA or that invest in GALILEO on their own behalf. Please understand that we can not provide an interface between those companies and potential recrutees.
    Apart from this, the GALILEO Joint Undertaking, which will manage the development phase of the GALILEO programme and which has its seat in Brussels, Belgium, is currently recruiting its personnel. Please feel free to send your curriculum to

  • How can my company become actively involved?
    For the infrastructure development, contacts have to be taken with the Joint Undertaking (details will be made available here once the Joint Undertaking has taken up operations).
    For downstream applications development, amounts will be allocated within the 6th Framework Programme for Research and Development.
    See also: Private sector participation.

  • What is the schedule of GALILEO?
    GALILEO will be fully operable in 2008 at the latest, with start of signal transmission in 2005.

last update: 11-12-2007