The Galileo name first appeared in the Communication of the Commission from February 1999. Since then, the programme has been on its way towards full operational capacity. Fourteen satellites are already in orbit and a further 16 will be launched by 2020. The Financing Decisions for the programme were taken by the European Council in the early 2000s.
The Galileo programme has been structured according to two main phases:
The In-Orbit Validation (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 December 2005 and April 2008 respectively. Their purpose was to characterise the Medium-Earth Orbit (MEO) environment (radiation, magnetic field, etc.) and to test the performance of critical payload technology (atomic clocks and radiation hardened digital technology). They also provided an early experimental signal-in-space to secure the frequency spectrum required for Galileo in accordance with WRC RNSS allocations.
The first two operational satellites were launched on 21 October 2011, followed by the launch of the third and fourth operational satellites on the 12 October 2012. Their purpose is to fully validate the Galileo concept, using the four satellites together with the Galileo stations and control centers. The first independent European position fix was achieved with the Galileo system on 12 March 2013.
The Full Operational Capacity (FOC) phase consists of the deployment of the remaining ground and space infrastructure. It includes an intermediate initial operational capability phase with 18 satellites (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.
The full Galileo infrastructure will be composed of:
The definition phase, development, and In-Orbit Validation phase of the Galileo Programme were carried out by the European Space Agency (ESA) and co-funded by the ESA and the EU.
The Full Operational Capability phase of the Galileo Programme is fully funded by the EU and managed by the European Commission. The Commission and the ESA have signed a delegation agreement by which ESA acts as the design and procurement agent on behalf of the Commission.
In early January 2010, the Commission announced the award of three of the six contracts for the procurement of Galileo's initial operational capability.
The contracts were signed on 26 January 2010 between the ESA, acting on behalf of the Commission, and the companies involved.
On 25 October 2010, the contract for the operations was signed with SpaceOpal GmbH (an Italian-German joint venture) and the ESA on behalf of the Commission.
The final two procurement contracts for the ground mission infrastructure and the ground control infrastructure were awarded in June 2011 to Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Defense and Space.
The Galileo Drawing Competition encouraged children to create a piece of artwork that represented the theme ‘Space and Aeronautics’. A jury of national personalities selected each country's winner who will have one of the satellites of the Galileo Programme named after them. The competition was open to children in the EU27 who were born between 2000 and 2002.
Complete list of winners in the order each child’s satellite will be launched:
|N°||Country||Winning Child||N°||Country||Winning Child|