The future funding and implementation of Galileo, Europe’s own Global
Satellite Navigation System, will be major topics for decision at the
ESA ministerial on 14-15 November and at the EU’s Transport Council in
December. In the meantime, ESA is forging ahead with developing and
testing the technology for the billion-Euro project.

Galileo will consist of 30 satellites in medium Earth orbit supported by
a global network of ground control and monitoring stations. A user with
a receiver will be able to determine his or her position to within a few
metres from signals broadcast by three or four of the satellites.

Work on new technologies needed for the constellation and the ground
segment has been continuing apace at ESA’s technical centre, ESTEC in
the Netherlands. Critical technologies include the development of
on-board clocks for the satellites, signal generators to produce the
variety of positioning signals that the Galileo spacecraft will
broadcast; power amplifiers; antennae; timing units to correct the
on-board clocks; and a system simulation facility to test strategies for
coping with contingencies when the full system is up and running. In
addition, ESA has started working on technologies needed for hand-held
Galileo receivers.

Good progress has also been made with the first stage of the Galileo
System Test Bed (GSTB) which allows engineers to validate Galileo-
specific control algorithms, such as clock adjustments, and procedures
for predicting individual satellite orbits, before the full system goes
into operation. The second stage will allow critical technologies to be
tested on satellites in medium Earth orbit.

The ESA and EU ministers are expected to confirm Galileo and to approve
the Galileo development programme.

Related news

* What is Galileo?

* Who’s involved in Galileo?

* Costs and how to finance Galileo

Related links

* Galileo website (European Commission)


Europe’s satellite navigation system, called Galileo, is planned to become
operational in 2008.