December 5, 2011

European Union allocates 7 B€ for completing its satellite navigation infrastructure

News Report

As reported by AvioNews and other news sources, the European Commission has recently proposed the new framework for the financing and governance of the two European satellite navigation programmes, i.e. Galileo and EGNOS, for the period 2014-2020. The Commission proposes to earmark €7.0 billions to guarantee the completion of the EU satellite navigation infrastructure and to ensure the exploitation of the systems until 2020, such as the operations of the space and terrestrial infrastructures, the necessary replenishment/replacement activities, certification procedures, and notably the provision of services.

The proposal also recalls that the Union remains the owner of the systems. Therefore the management of the programmes' exploitation should be delegated to the European GNSS Agency while management of the programmes' deployment should be delegated to the European Space Agency.

The Programme (Galileo)

Galileo is Europe’s own global navigation satellite system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control. It is inter-operable with GPS and Glonass, the two other global satellite navigation systems. The origins of the programme were in an agreement between the European Union and the European Space Agency (ESA) to equip Europe with a satellite navigation system independent of the U.S. GPS system, which would be able to meet the needs of a large number of sectors, from transport (air, rail, road, sea) and telecommunications to homeland security.

The fully deployed Galileo system consists of 30 satellites (27 operational + 3 active spares), positioned in three circular Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) planes at 23 222 km altitude above the Earth, and at an inclination of the orbital planes of 56 degrees to the equator.

On October 2011 came the first two of four operational satellites designed to validate the Galileo concept in both space and on Earth. Two more will follow in 2012. Once this In-Orbit Validation (IOV) phase has been completed, additional satellites will be launched to reach Initial Operational Capability (IOC) around mid-decade. A range of services will be extended as the system is built up from IOC to reach the Full Operational Capability (FOC) by this decade’s end.

By offering dual frequencies as standard, Galileo will deliver real-time positioning accuracy down to the metre range. It will guarantee availability of the service under all but the most extreme circumstances and will inform users within seconds of any satellite failure, making it suitable for safety-critical applications such as guiding cars, running trains and landing aircraft.

Among all the different services that will be provided by Galileo, one particular interesting is the support to civil protection and surveillance applications. In disaster situations, transport and communications infrastructures may become unavailable. However, relief operations need to rely on precise information as regards the location of rescue teams, as well as topography or hazard maps. The high reliability of Galileo even in difficult conditions is of particular interest for civil protection. Combined with the European initiative GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security), it can be used to track fire brigades engaged in forest fires, or to optimise rescue team vehicles deployment. The European Commission will seek to raise awareness and coordinate Member States in their activities in this field.

The Galileo global navigation satellite programme will also be of utmost importance for security-related missions, in particular through its Public Regulated Service (PRS). Indeed, this navigation service will be set up for better management of critical transport and emergency services, better law enforcement (police), improved internal security (border control) and safer peace-keeping missions.

The Programme (EGNOS)

The European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) is Europe's first venture into satellite navigation. It was developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) under a tripartite agreement between the European Commission (EC), the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol) and ESA. Several air traffic service providers are supporting the development programme with their own investments. In April 2009, the ownership of the EGNOS assets have been transferred from the European Space Agency to the European Commission which now manages and finances the entry of EGNOS into the Service Provision phase

EGNOS is the European Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) that complements the GPS system. It disseminates, on the GPS L1 frequency, integrity signals in real-time, providing information on the health of the GPS constellation. In addition, correction data improves the accuracy of the current GPS services from about 10 m to about 2 m. The EGNOS Service Area includes all European states and has the system-inherent capability to be extended to other regions, such as EU neighbouring countries, North Africa and more generally regions within the coverage of three geostationary satellites being used to transmit the EGNOS signal


Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship said: “A lot has been achieved by both Galileo and EGNOS. Looking to the bright future ahead the key message of financial stability for these flagship programmes is of paramount importance so that European industry and citizens can reap all their benefits. Both Galileo and EGNOS are strongly contributing to our industrial competiveness and innovation in key sectors with great economic potential. The increase of our know-how satellite navigation technology and service will significantly support European industry in these difficult times.

References: AvioNews (1), ESA (2), European Commission (3), ESSP (4)

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