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Galileo: Europe launches its first satellites for smart navigation system

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“This is a proud moment for all Europeans; today's launch is proof of Europe's prowess in the field of space activities. I now call on European industry and SMEs, to seize without delay the important economic opportunities offered by this system – get innovating now! European citizens can get ready, Galileo is about to be a part of our daily lives”.

Today Europe takes a major step in its history by launching the first two operational Galileo satellites at 12h30 CET from Kourou, French Guiana with a Soyuz launcher to reach their orbit at 23.000 kilometres.

Europe is now a step closer to having its own smart satellite navigation system, which will bring many benefits to our economies and our daily lives. European industry is in pole position to benefit from the Galileo programme, by providing businesses and citizens direct access to a satellite navigation signal powered in Europe.

From 2014, the new constellation will enable improved services ranging from more precise in-car navigation, effective road transport management, search and rescue services, more secure banking transactions as well as reliable electricity provision, which all rely heavily on satellite navigation technologies to work efficiently. The overall economic impact is estimated to be around 90 billion euro over the next 20 years.

Galileo: Enhanced global satellite navigation system for Europe

The Galileo programme sets up an enhanced global satellite navigation system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service. It will offer three services, the Open Service (free of charge), and the Public Regulated Service (PRS) the Search-and-Rescue Service, as of 2014. Further services to follow later will include a Commercial Service and a Safety-of-Life Service for higher data throughput rate and higher accuracy authenticated data.

Today’s launch constitutes the first real building blocks of the full constellation leading to the provision of essential services by 2014. The two satellites, carrying the most precise Maser atomic clocks ever – accurate to one second in three million years – means that the validation of the future 30-satellite constellation can now be accelerated.

Galileo is interoperable and compatible with GPS.

Galileo is expected to deliver €90 billion additional revenues for industry

No doubt, Europe’s satellite navigation system is on the road to becoming operational and so the focus must now turn to the provision of services for the benefit of European citizens and the economy, in line with the Commission's "Europe 2020" strategy. The system underpins many sectors of the European economy through its services: electricity grids, fleet management companies, financial transactions, shipping industry, rescue operations, peace-keeping missions will all benefit from the free Open Service, the Public Regulated Service and the Search-and-Rescue service.

In addition, the Galileo programme ensures European know-how in a technology that is becoming critical, including for such areas as electricity distribution and telecommunication networks. The system established under the Galileo programme is expected to deliver €90 billion over a period of 20 years in terms of additional revenues for industry and in terms of public and social benefits.

EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) is Europe’s regional augmentation system for GPS signals. It is the precursor to Galileo. The EGNOS open service is operational since October 2009, and the Commission recently launched the EGNOS “Safety-of-Life” service for aviation (IP/11/247).

MEMO/11/717

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“This is a proud moment for all Europeans; today's launch is proof of Europe's prowess in the field of space activities. I now call on European industry and SMEs, to seize without delay the important economic opportunities offered by this system – get innovating now! European citizens can get ready, Galileo is about to be a part of our daily lives”.

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