The launch of the first two operational satellites of the EU’s global navigation satellite system will take place on 20th October, the European Commission announced today.
This is just the first of a series of launches due to take off from Europe’s Space Port in Kourou, French Guiana. The launch of the Galileo satellites at an altitude of 23.600km will lead to the provision of initial satellite navigation services in 2014. Successive launches will complete the constellation by 2019.
Antonio Tajani, European Commission Vice-President in charge of Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: “This launch is of historical importance. Europe is demonstrating that it has the capability to be at the forefront of technological innovation. Thousands of SMEs and innovators across Europe will be able to spot business opportunities and to create and develop their products based on the future Galileo infrastructure. Citizen will benefits from its services. Galileo is value for money and I count on Members States’ cooperation to find a solution for its financing.”
The Galileo programme is the EU’s initiative for a state-of-the-art global satellite navigation system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control. The decision to fix the date of the first launch follows a detailed assessment review under the chairmanship of the European Space Agency. It concluded that the space and ground segment components as well as operational preparedness are progressing according to schedule.
Galileo will underpin many sectors of the European economy through its services: electricity grids, fleet management companies, financial transactions, shipping industry, rescue operations, peace-keeping missions, all depend heavily on satellite navigation technology.
In addition, Galileo will make Europe independent in a technology that is becoming critical, including for strategic areas such as electricity distribution and telecommunication networks. Galileo is expected to deliver €60 billion to the European economy over a period of 20 years in terms of additional revenues for the industry and in terms of public and social benefits, not counting the benefit of independence.
Galileo will provide three early services in 2014/2015 based on an initial constellation of 18 satellites: an initial Open Service, an initial Public Regulated Service and an initial Search-and-Rescue Service.
The Full Operational Capability phase of the Galileo programme is managed and fully funded by the European Union. The Commission and ESA have signed a delegation agreement by which ESA acts as design and procurement agent on behalf of the Commission.
EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) is Europe’s regional augmentation system for GPS signals. It is the precursor to Galileo. The EGNOS open service is operational since October 2009, and the Commission recently launched the EGNOS “Safety-of-Life” service for aviation.