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Who is involved?

The definition phase and the development and In-Orbit Validation phase of the Galileo programme were carried out by the European Space Agency (ESA) and co-funded by ESA and the European Union.

The Full Operational Capability phase of the Galileo programme is fully funded by the European Union and managed by the European Commission. The Commission and ESA have signed a delegation agreement by which ESA acts as design and procurement agent on behalf of the Commission.

Phases of the programme

The Galileo programme has been structured according to two main phases:

1. In-Orbit Validation (IOV) phase:

The IOV phase consists of qualifying the system through tests and the operation of two experimental satellites and a reduced constellation of four operational satellites and their related ground infrastructure.

The two experimental satellites were launched in respectively December 2005 and April 2008. Their purpose was and is to characterise the Medium-Earth Orbit (MEO) environment (radiations, magnetic field etc.) and to test in such environment the performance of critical payload technology (atomic clocks and radiation hardened digital technology). They also provide an early experimental signal-in-space allowing to secure the frequency spectrum required for Galileo in accordance with WRC RNSS allocations.

The two first two operational satellites were launched on the 21 October 2011, followed by the launch of the third and fourth operational satellites on the 12 October 2012.

2. Full Operational Capability (FOC) phase:

The FOC phase consists of the deployment of the remaining ground and space infrastructure. It includes an intermediate initial operational capability phase with 18 satellites in operation (the four IOV satellites plus 14 others). The full system will consist of 30 satellites, control centers located in Europe and a network of sensor stations and uplink stations installed around the globe.

Galileo services definition

The Galileo mission and services have been elaborated during the initial definition phase in consultation with user communities and the Member States.

The services that are planned to be provided by Galileo are the following:

  • Open Service: basic signal provided free-of-charge;
  • Commercial Service: combination of two encrypted signals for higher data throughput rate and higher accuracy authenticated data;
  • Public Regulated Service: two encrypted signals with controlled access for specific users like governmental bodies;
  • Search And Rescue Service: Galileo will contribute to the international COSPAS-SARSAT cooperative system for humanitarian search and rescue activities. Each satellite will be equipped with a transponder transferring the distress signal from the user to the Rescue Coordination Centre and informing him that his situation has been detected.

Galileo Architecture

The Galileo full infrastructure will be composed of:

  • A constellation of 30 satellites in Medium-Earth Orbit (MEO). Each satellite will contain a navigation payload and a search and rescue transponder;
  • 30-40 sensor stations;
  • 3 control centres;
  • 9 Mission Uplink stations;
  • telemetry, tracking and command (TT&C) stations.

Galileo architecture 

Galileo Procurement

Early January 2010, the European Commission announced the award of three of the six contracts for the procurement of Galileo's initial operational capability.

  • The contract for the system support services was awarded to Thales Alenia Space and covers the industrial services needed to support the European Space Agency for the integration and the validation of the Galileo system.
  • The contract for a first order of 14 satellites was awarded to OHB System AG. The first satellite is expected to be delivered in July 2012 and the last one in March 2014. The remaining 12 to 14 satellites needed to reach the Full Operational Capability will be procured in subsequent work orders from either OHB or EADS Astrium GmbH under the framework contract signed with both manufacturers.
  • The contract for the launch services was awarded to Arianespace and covers the launch of five Soyuz launchers, each carrying two satellites. The first launch took place the 21 October 2011 and the second launch is planned for the 12 October 2012, both from Kourou, in French Guiana.

The contracts were signed on 26 January between the European Space Agency, acting on behalf of the European Commission, and the companies involved.

On 25th October 2010, the contract for the operations was signed with SpaceOpal GmbH (an Italian-German joint venture) and the European Space Agency on behalf of the European Commission.

The final two procurement contracts for the ground mission infrastructure and the ground control infrastructure were awarded in June 2011.

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