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Green light for European GPS: Successful Galileo position fix

Green light for European satellite navigation: Yesterday in a public demonstration in Fucino, Italy, European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani announced a successful position fixi on the basis of the EU’s current four Galileo satellites. This position fix of longitude, latitude and altitude is concrete proof of the ability of Galileo - the European Commission’s programme to develop a global satellite navigation system under European civilian control - to provide highly accurate positioning data of cars or other objects. Tajani also announced that further satellite launches will bring first services by the end of 2014. They will result in an improved GPS signal and - with more precision, coverage and availability of satellite navigation signals - a whole new array of business opportunities will arise. As the benefits of Galileo are becoming tangible, providers of services and products using data from Galileo need to start preparing for these future market opportunities right now. (MEMO/13/718)

European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: “Today is a great day for European Satellite Navigation. The positioning accuracy achieved with only four Galileo satellites is a demonstration of European industrial competence. It is also an important step towards the launch of first services in October 2014. Every day users will be able to enjoy improved satellite navigation, and new business opportunities will open up. This is what we dearly need in the current economic situation.”

More information on Galileo

Position fix relies on an entirely new European infrastructure

The position fix was obtained by using the four Galileo satellites launched in October 2011 and 2012, and the Galileo programme’s ground infrastructure, which includes the control centres in Italy and Germany and the global network of ground stations.

A minimum of four satellites is required to make a position fix in three dimensions. The four satellites of the Galileo constellation are currently visible from the Earth at the same time for only a maximum two to three hours daily – meaning that a position fix can only be obtained during this period. The frequency of position fix availability will increase as more satellites are deployed and additional ground stations become operational.

Benefits of Galileo satellite navigation positioning

Galileo will allow users to know their exact position in time and space, just like the USA’s GPS, but with greater precision and reliability. It will be compatible and, for some of its services, interoperable with GPS and Glonass (Russia), but independent from them.

High level of accuracy

By placing satellites in orbits at a greater inclination to the equatorial plane, Galileo also achieves better coverage at high latitudes, making it particularly valuable to users in northern Europe, an area thus far not well covered by the USA’s GPS alone. In addition, the Galileo signal's enhanced properties make it easier to acquire and track, and more resistant to interference and reflections.

Business opportunities

Galileo and the space industry in general presents a huge opportunity for Europe, not just for the everyday lives of European citizens and companies delivering the space infrastructures but even more for downstream industry, the people who develop innovative services using Galileo data. Galileo creates a range of new business opportunities for equipment manufacturers, application developers and providers of ‘reliability-critical' services.

Some derived services could, for example, help avoid car crashes, help visually and motor impaired people navigate, expedite the transport of dangerous goods, survey costal water depth and facilitate intelligent salt-spreading during the winter (MEMO/12/601).

Civil protection and security

Tajani also said that the public sector itself is a potential customer for the applications of Galileo, especially with regard to the areas of civil protection and security. The future Galileo Public Regulated Services (RPS) can be used by emergency services, critical transportation, energy or for telecom and defence purposes. Tajani said that potential users do not yet know sufficiently these advantages of Galileo.

Governments will restrict the PRS to authorized users and for sensitive applications that require a high level of continuity. The PRS will use robust signals which are encrypted and resistant to jamming.

Galileo will be ready to roll in 2014

Galileo’s operations will start by the end of 2014, but the complete infrastructure is due to be finalised later.

European Space Expo

The European Space Expo is a travelling exhibition which underlines how space and satellite navigation activities have a direct impact on citizens' daily life. Over 30,000 applications rely on space technologies. Visitors of all ages can see, touch and experience the wide range of innovative technologies and services that space offers to them.

World expo will showcase space applications

The World Expo 2015 in Milan from 1 May to 31 October 2015 under the theme "Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life" will showcase how space and satellite navigation applications can help to address to the planetary debate on food and sustainability.

Contacts :

Carlo Corazza (+32 2 295 17 52) @ECspokesCorazza

Sara Tironi (+32 2 299 04 03)

i : Position fixing determines the position of a ship, aircraft or person on the surface of the Earth

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