Galileo – The European Satellite Navigation System
- Possible applications
- European Union system
- Economic importance
- German participation
- How does Galileo Work?
- Giove – Galileo’s satellites
- Giove-B – the first true representation of what Galileo will offer
An independent, European, civil satellite navigation system, which is being developed for worldwide use, is being created in the form of Galileo.
A reliable navigation and positioning system is increasingly becoming a key element for interlinking the different modes of transport to create an integrated transport system at the national and European levels.
Galileo is an independent, highly accurate positioning and timing system. It can be used, for instance, in aviation for a multiplicity of navigation applications; in shipping for safe navigation using electronic charts; on the railways for train control systems; in road transport for route guidance, driver assistance systems and automatic electronic emergency calls (eCall); and in intermodal deployments it can be used to monitor dangerous goods movements and for cargo tracking.
In addition, it can make a major contribution in the fields of geodesy, agriculture, search and rescue services or in the leisure sector (direction-finding in open country or on water).
European Union system
Galileo is designed to make the European Union (EU) independent from the existing, nationally controlled systems in the field of satellite navigation – the USA’s GPS (Global Positioning System) and the Russian Federation’s GLONASS (Globalnaya Navigatsionaya Sputnikovaya Sistema). As a joint project of the EU and the European Space Agency (ESA), Galileo will be compatible and interoperable with GPS, but will guarantee independent and reliable usability. Because Galileo, as a civil system under civil control, will continue to be available in the event of a crisis and will offer a higher utility value by meeting exacting reliability and positioning accuracy requirements, by providing guaranteed services and signals and the option of transmitting integrity messages to the user.
Satellite navigation is an attractive growth market. This is especially true of the development of products and services that are based on satellite navigation and will later also be based on Galileo. A recent study conducted by the European GNSS Agency (GSA) found that the global market for satellite applications was worth € 133 billion in 2010. The study assumes that there will be steady market growth of eleven percent a year over the period to 2020. By far the largest shares will be in the road transport sector (56 %) and in location-based services (LBS – 43 %). Satellite navigation is also increasingly becoming a major tool for aviation and agriculture.
It is true that GPS currently provides its signals for civil use free of charge, but it uses them selectively for competition purposes. This gives the American industry significant advantages in the development and marketing of receivers. This means that an independent European system is absolutely essential in order to give the German and European industries autonomous access to the core of this key 21st-century technology. This will ensure a level playing field in international competition.
From the very beginning, the Federal Government has been firmly committed to ensuring that German companies enjoy their fair share, and it has made the largest financial contribution to the project. This commitment is paying off. The major part of the system development work – development and construction of the first four satellites and the necessary ground stations – is being carried out by the German space industry. The prime contractor for the first four Galileo satellites is Astrium GmbH (Munich).
The German space industry will also play a key role in the system deployment phase. At the November 2007 Transport Council, EU transport ministers decided that the contracts for the Galileo segments would be awarded by Europe-wide competitive tendering. In a “competitive dialogue”, two corporations from Germany won contracts to construct the Galileo satellites. On 7 January 2010, the European Commission announced that framework contracts had been concluded with both OHB System AG (Bremen) and Astrium GmbH (Munich) on the supply of up to 32 satellites. An initial order for 14 satellites, worth 566 million euros, was placed with OHB.
Germany will also be heavily involved in the control of the system. Oberpfaffenhofen has been chosen as the site of one of the two main satellite control centres, alongside Fucino in Italy. On 25 October 2010, a framework contract for the operation of the two control centres was signed with Spaceopal, a joint venture in which the German Aerospace Centre (through a subsidiary) and the Italian Telespazio S.p.A each have a 50 % stake. The contract, which will run until 2016, is worth € 194 million.
By way of preparation for the subsequent use of the navigation signals as a basis for the success of the Galileo system, the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development holds a GNSS user conference each year with the industry, the research community, service providers and users to provide information on the possibilities and potential inherent in satellite positioning and navigation and to promote commercialization and market penetration. The most recent user conference was held in Stuttgart on 3 November 2010.
To support innovative application ideas, the international “European Satellite Navigation Competition” has been held since 2004. This annual event is organized by the Anwendungszentrum GmbH Obepfaffehnhofen under the auspices of the Bavarian State Ministry of Economics, Infrastructure, Transport and Technology. The competition is addressed to companies, entrepreneurs, research establishments, institutions of higher education and individuals in 18 high-tech regions throughout the world.
The development costs of around 1.8 bn euros are covered by funds from the EU budget and by ESA.
The deployment of the system will be funded from the EU budget. Expenditure totalling 3.4 billion euros has been earmarked for this purpose in an EU multi-annual financial framework from 2007 to 2013. In its mid-term review of European satellite navigation programmes, presented on 18 January 2011, the Commission estimates additional costs of around 1.9 bn euros for the full
development of the Galileo system. In addition, it expects annual costs of around 800 million euros for operating, further developing and renewing the system.
The development phase, which comprises the technological development and the trial of the system, is due to be completed by 2012. The first four Galileo satellites are scheduled to be launched from Kourou (French Guyana) at the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012.
The deployment phase, in which the remaining satellites will be built and put into orbit, runs at the same time. Operation is planned to start progressively in 2014/2015.
How does Galileo Work?
The constellation will consist of a total of 30 satellites, which will be fitted with atomic clocks for the accurate measurement of time. Each satellite will transmit not only a time signal but also its current coordinates.
If a receiver on earth receives the signals from a satellite, the distance between the receiver and the satellite will be calculated. From a knowledge of the coordinates of the satellites and the distance from them, the position of the receiver and, if necessary, the time at which the satellite signals reach the receiver will be calculated and displayed. Precise positioning will require signals to be received from at least four satellites.
The satellites will be monitored by the required number of ground stations.
Giove – Galileo’s satellites
An independent, European, civil satellite navigation system, which is being developed for worldwide use, is being created in the form of Galileo. A reliable navigation and positioning system is increasingly becoming a key element for interlinking the different modes of transport to create an integrated transport system at the national and European levels.
Giove is short for "Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element" and also the Italian name for the planet Jupiter. Two test satellites have already been put into space under this name. GIOVE-A, which was launched in December 2005, has exceeded its service life by far. Due to resulting technical problems, it was lifted to another orbit which we call graveyard orbit.
Giove-B – the first true representation of what Galileo will offer
Giove-B was successfully put into orbit on 27 April 2008. It is fitted with a highly accurate atomic clock which will later also be used in the system itself. Accurate to one billionth of a second per day, the hydrogen maser clock will set new accuracy standards for satellite navigation. Giove-B was a step towards implementing the European satellite navigation system Galileo.
- Directorate-General Energy and Transport
Link to the Directorate-General Energy and Transport of the European Commission with information about Galileo
- European Space Agency (ESA)
Detailed information regarding its use at sea, on land and in the air
- ESA Special: Galileo
Link to a special about Galileo on the main page of ESA
- German Aerospace Center
Find more information about navigation systems and more links concerning the topic
- Galileo Joint Undertaking (GJU)
Find more information about for example activities and procurement of the GJU
- Galileo Industries
Find a website providing a broader perspective and understanding of the Galileo system