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Satellite navigation

Galileo - What do we want to achieve ?

Galileo logo © European Union 2008-2011

The Galileo programme is Europe's initiative for a state-of-the-art global satellite navigation system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control. The fully deployed system will consist of 30 satellites and the associated ground infrastructure. Galileo will be inter-operable with GPS and GLONASS, the two other global satellite navigation systems.

22/08/2014 - First launch of Galileo FOC satellites

On Friday, August 22nd, 2014, at 14.27:11 (CET), the first launch of Galileo's Full Operational Capability (FOC) satellites took place at the European Space Port of Kourou (French Guyana). These satellites, manufactured by the German company OHB, were meant to rejoin the current 4 of the In-Orbit Validation phase, which are in orbit already and were used to conduct tests and validate technical solutions.

Unfortunately, the orbit injection didn't occur as planned and the satellites did not reach their intended orbital position.

The European Commission has requested Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA) to provide full details of the incident, together with a schedule and an action plan to rectify the problem.


12/02/2013 - First Galileo-only position fix received

On March 12th, 2013, between 10 and 11 o' clock, a first positioning test based on the 4 first operational Galileo satellites was conducted by ESA.

This first position fix returned an accuracy range of +/- 10 meters, which is considered as very good, considering that only 4 satellites (out of the total constellation of 30) are already deployed.

12/10/2012 - Second launch of Galileo satellites

The launch of Galileo's third and fourth satellites from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, took place on the 12 October at 20.15 CET (15:15 Kourou time).

30/11/2011 - New way forward for Galileo satellite navigation

The European Commission has proposed the new framework for the financing and governance of the two European satellite navigation programmes Galileo and EGNOS (GPS signal augmentation) for the period 2014-2020.

The Commission proposes to earmark €7.0 billion to guarantee the completion of the EU satellite navigation infrastructure and to ensure the exploitation of the systems until 2020, such as the operations of the space and terrestrial infrastructures, the necessary replenishment/replacement activities, certification procedures, and notably the provision of services.

21/10/2011 - Launch of the first two Galileo satellites

The launch of the first two operational satellites of the EU's global navigation satellite system took place on 21 October 2011 at 12h30 CET (07h30 local time in Kourou).


Galileo will give Europe independence in satellite navigation, a sector that has become very important for its economy (about 7% of the EU GDP in 2009) and the well-being of its citizens.

Independent studies also show that Galileo will deliver around €90 billion to the EU economy over the first 20 years of operations, in the form of direct revenues for the space, receivers and applications industries and in the form of indirect revenues for society (more effective transport systems, more effective rescue operations etc.)


Guiding blinds in an unknown city, locate people lost at sea with a 3 meters accuracy, guiding tractors by satellite for higher crop yields with much less fertilizer, reducing fuel and time consumption on the road thanks to a better traffic management, making flights and landings safer: this is not science fiction, these applications are already being tested now.

Thanks to its accuracy Galileo opens the doors to a huge range of innovative applications making everyday life easier and safer.

Read more on Galileo potential applications.


Three initial services will be provided from 2014 onwards:

  • The Open Service: Galileo open and free of user charge signal,
  • The Public Regulated Service: a special Galileo navigation service using encrypted signals set up for better management of critical transport and emergency services, better law enforcement, improved border control and safer peace missions,
  • The Search And Rescue Service, contribution of Europe to COSPAS-SARSAT, an international satellite-based search and rescue distress alert detection system.

Another services will be tested as of 2014 and provided as the system reaches full operational capability with the 30 satellites:

  • The Commercial Service that gives access to two additional encrypted signals.

See also

Galileo children drawing competition

The European Commission organised a drawing competition open to children born in 2000, 2001 and 2002. The winners (one per EU Member State) will have their name given to a Galileo satellite to be launched in space.

01/09/2011 - European children will name Galileo satellites constellation

>> Galileo children drawing competition

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