Tomorrow Galileo, the EU's satellite navigation programme, will send two more satellites into space, reaching a total number of 6 satellites in orbit. The lift-off will take place at the European spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana, at 14.31 CET and can be viewed via live streaming here. The launch marks another milestone for Galileo as a step towards a fully-fledged European-owned satellite navigation system. These two satellites are the first of a new series which is fully owned by the EU. With the forthcoming addition of a new wave of such satellites to the existing array, the availability and coverage of the Galileo signal will gradually improve and bring us a step closer to the fully operational phase of the programme. The satellites to be launched tomorrow, Doresa and Milena, were named by the two schoolchildren who won an EU wide drawing competition to name them.
European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship Ferdinando Nelli Feroci, commented: "The launch of these two satellites initiates Galileo's full operational capability phase. It gives new impetus to the Galileo programme, a truly European project which has built on EU countries' resources to maximise the benefits for EU citizens. Galileo operates at a technological frontier and provides applications with huge economic potential, supporting the EU objectives of growth and competitiveness. We are particularly glad to also announce that from 2015 onwards the EU will be able to use a European built "Ariane 5" launch system, thanks to a new contract worth €500 million for the EU's space industry.”
Benefits of an EU satellite navigation system
The improved positioning and timing information supplied by Galileo will have positive implications for many services and users in Europe. Products that people use daily, for example in-car navigation devices and mobile phones will benefit from the extra accuracy provided by Galileo. Galileo's satellite navigation data will also benefit critical services for citizens and users, for example it will make road and rail transport systems safer and improve our responses to emergency situations.
Once it has entered into its operational phase, Galileo will also spawn a wide range of innovative new products and services in other industries and generate economic growth, innovation and highly skilled jobs. In 2013 the annual global market for global navigation satellite products and services was valued at €175 billion and it is expected to grow over the next years to an estimated €237 billion in 2020.
The Commission aims to have the full constellation of 30 Galileo satellites (which includes six in-orbit active spares) in operation before the end of this decade.
To foster economic development and maximise the socio-economic benefits expected from the system, the Commission plans to update the EU's action plan for global navigation satellite system applications and propose new measures to promote the use of Galileo.
Galileo is the programme of the European Union to develop a global satellite navigation system under European civilian control. Galileo signals will allow users to know their exact position in time and space with greater precision and reliability than with the currently existing systems. Galileo will be compatible with and, for some of its services, interoperable with existing similar systems, but will be autonomous.
Since 2011, four Galileo satellites have been launched and used as part of the In-Orbit Validation phase, allowing the first autonomous position fix to be calculated based on Galileo-only signals in March 2013.
EGNOS, operational since 2011, is the European system to help improve the performance of global navigation satellite systems. EGNOS improves the accuracy and the reliability of signals from existing systems by correcting signal measurement errors and by providing information about signal integrity.