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Galileo is Go...

Date 30th November 2007

It has been a very long time in coming but this week the EU finally agreed to commit funding to the Galileo GPS system.

 

This £2+ billion pound project, projected to be operational by 2013, had been in limbo for some time with initial proposals that funding come from private investment proving to be unrealistic.

 

But not everyone is happy, the agreement was made without Spain's backing. Spain had wanted a greater degree of involvement and demanded a ground control station on its territory. Ground stations in Munich and Rome have been agree but the EU could not justify the expense of a third as Spain had demanded.

 

Concerns about cost and budget control remain of course, the EU and in fairness Government in general do not have a good track record on the control of spending on large projects such as this but Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) based in Guildford are expected to win a large part of the tender for the build of the satellites. SSTL were responsible for the build of a test vehicle (GIOVE-A) which was launched by ESA at the end of 2005 aboard a Soyuz launch rocket.

 

Why Do We Need It?

We already have the US Navstar constellation, so many ask why on earth do we need to spend £2 Billion on another?

 

Although we do currently enjoy open access to the US system it is run and controlled by the US Military and they give no guarantees as to access in future. The use of satellite navigation systems has become vastly more widespread in recent years with marine navigation, aviation , fleet management etc all heavily reliant on the service.

 

If the signal was to be switched off tomorrow chaos would ensue and its is common sense to implement a system that whilst it will remain compatible with the US service, will ultimately be under EU control.

 

In addition, advances in technology mean that much greater positional accuracy can be offered by a new system. And of course the programme will bring many jobs to EU companies as well as removing our reliance on the US system.

 

What Will We Get?

The proposal for Galileo is to offer a constellation of thirty satellites. It will be Europe’s own global navigation satellite system and will provide an accurate and equally importantly, a guaranteed service.

 

Galileo GPS Constellation

 

The proposal also provides for compatibility with the US and Russian systems. Whilst in Taiwan earlier this year we were shown chipsets that had already been designed and that were compatible with GPS, GLONASS and Galileo.

 

A new feature will be that Galileo broadcast position signals will be offered as a tiered service with varying levels of accuracy available to different users segments and uniquely, some services only available to fee paying users:

 

Open Access

A free service for use by the general public. With accuracy to 1m this is an improvement on the current +/-10m and suitable for general car navigation etc.

 

Commercial Encrypted

Much higher accuracy, down to +/- 1cm. This service will be chargeable.

 

Public Encrypted

Continuous availability with Government agencies being the primary users.

 

SAR Search and Rescue

This will provide a search and rescue function in conjunction with the COSPAS-SARSPAT system. This will allow transfer of distress signals from rescue transmitters and will also provide confirmation to the user that help is on the way.

 

It remains to be seen of course if this will become a shining example of cross border co-operation such as Airbus or a white elephant that spirals out of control, costs the EU tax payers billions and never comes to fruition!

References

Manufacturers Web site

http://www.esa.int/esaNA/galileo.html

Pocket GPS Contributor

Darren Griffin

Pocket GPS Contributor Web site

www.Pocketgpsworld.com

   

 

 

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