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Galileo

Galileo

Galileo is the European Union's Global Satellite Navigation System (GNSS). Sometimes called the ’European GPS‘, Galileo provides accurate positioning and timing information. Galileo is a programme under civilian control and its data can be used for a broad range of applications. It is autonomous but also interoperable with existing satellite navigation systems. At the moment, the Galileo constellation consists of 18 satellites.

Galileo services and applications

On 15 December 2016, the Declaration of Initial Services marked the beginning of Galileo’s operational phase. This means that anyone with a Galileo-enabled device is now able to use signals provided by Galileo's global satellite constellation for positioning, navigation and timing.           

With 18 satellites in orbit and their supporting ground infrastructure, Galileo is currently offering three Initial Services after an extensive testing period:

  • Open Service: a free mass-market service for positioning, navigation and timing;
  • Public Regulated Service: for government-authorised users, such as civil protection services, customs officers and the police. This system is particularly robust and fully encrypted to provide service continuity for government users during emergencies or crisis situations.
  • Search and Rescue Service: Europe’s contribution to the international distress beacon locating organisation COSPAS-SARSAT. Galileo's data helps to locate beacons and rescue people in distress in every kind of environment.

These services are free of charge and are available for citizens, business and authorities.

Galileo Initial Services are managed by the European GNSS Agency (GSA), based in Prague, Czech Republic.

For more information about Galileo Initial Services and on the Galileo system status, please visit the European GNSS Service Center.

Latest developments

Declaration of Initial Services

The Declaration of Initial Services is the first step towards Galileo reaching Full Operational Capability. This means that the signals are now highly accurate, but not available all the time. This is why Galileo signals will be used in combination with other navigation systems like GPS during the Initial Phase.

In the coming years, new satellites will be launched to enlarge the Galileo constellation, which will gradually improve Galileo signal availability worldwide. The constellation is expected to be completed by 2020, when it will include 24 satellites and 6 spare satellites.

Press release

Ariane 5 launch

On 17 November 2016, four Galileo satellites were successfully launched into space on a European launcher Ariane-5, which was specifically modified and will only be used for Galileo. This launch brought the Galileo constellation to 18 satellites. The launch was unique as, for the first time ever, four European satellites were lofted into orbit by a single European launcher.

Autonomous access to space is a cornerstone of the EU Space Strategy, which sets out the route Europe will take over the next 10-15 years.

Galileo satellites were named after children who had won an EU-wide drawing competition. The four satellites are called: Antonianna (Italy), Lisa (Hungary), Kimberley (Malta), Tijmen (Netherlands).

Why the EU needs Galileo

Many sectors of the European economy rely on precise localisation. The market for satellite navigation services has been growing steadily and is expected to be worth €250 billion per year by 2022. Today, around 7% of the EU economy is dependent on the availability of global navigation satellite signals. This includes transport, logistics, telecommunications and energy.

Our goal is to put the European Union on par with others, as several competitive systems are being built at the same time: Glonass in Russia, Beidou in China and the next generation of GPS in the USA.

We want to strengthen the competitiveness of our industry. Space is a source of industrial excellence and technological development with several potential spill-over effects into other sectors.

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

The goals of the EU’s satellite navigation programmes (Galileo and EGNOS) are to:

  • achieve technological independence with respect to other global navigation satellite systems
  • mobilise the economic and strategic advantages of having European control over the continuous availability of satellite navigation services
  • facilitate the development of new products and services based on satellite signals
  • generate related technological benefits for research, development, and innovation

What the European Commission does

The European Commission analyses the impact that satellite navigation has on competitiveness in four main segments of the EU economy:

  • Upstream – the contribution of the European space industry to the building of global satellite navigation systems
  • Service provision – European businesses supplying commercial or public positioning, navigation, or timing services
  • Downstream – the European applications industry, which depends on service provision to supply the hardware and software needed to exploit satellite signals
  • End users – businesses using services and applications provided by satellite signals.

The Galileo programme is funded and owned by the EU.

The European Commission has overall responsibility for the programme, managing and overseeing the implementation of all activities on behalf of the EU.

Galileo's deployment, its design, and the development of the new generation of systems and the technical development of infrastructure is entrusted to the European Space Agency (ESA).

The Commission has delegated the operational management of the programme to the GSA, which oversees how Galileo infrastructure is used and ensures that Galileo services are delivered as planned and without interruption.

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