Directions 2014: On the Path to Early Services

November 26, 2013  - By

Headshots: Eric Chatre, Horst Faas, and Marco Lisi By Eric Chatre, Horst Faas, and Marco Lisi

With four satellites in space, launched by pairs in October 2011 and October 2012 from French Guiana, the Galileo project is now successfully completing the In-Orbit Validation (IOV) phase. The Galileo space, ground, and user segments have been qualified through extensive on-ground and in-orbit tests, and operations, of a core satellite constellation and the associated ground segment.

The IOV architecture is being implemented as an integral part of the Full Operational Capability (FOC) — that is, the complete system, consisting of 30 satellites and a set of remote stations distributed worldwide to command and monitor the constellation and deliver the navigation and timing services to the users. Now that the overall design has been validated, the system will be progressively completed, in a staggered approach, to reach the FOC.

Figure 1. Galileo System Architecture.

Figure 1. Galileo System Architecture.

Galileo System Overview

A joint initiative by the European Union and the European Space Agency, Galileo is one of the most ambitious and technologically advanced service-oriented systems being developed in Europe. A navigation satellite programme under civilian control, it is meant to provide positioning, navigation and timing signals on a global scale.

Galileo is based on a constellation of 30 satellites organized in a 24-satellite nominal constellation plus six active spares, a worldwide network of ground stations, and a number of Control Centres established in Europe to control the constellation, perform the navigation mission management, and monitor system performances

The Galileo programme is following an incremental path towards the deployment of the complete system and the exploitation of services.

Figure 2. Galileo Incremental Implementation Plan.

Figure 2. Galileo Incremental Implementation Plan.

The programme has been structured according to the main following phases:

  • IOV phase, to develop and validate in-orbit performance;
  • Initial Operational Capability (IOC) phase, including Early Services, to start delivering limited but guaranteed services, promoting chipset and receiver developments, downstream applications, and pilot projects by EU Member States;
  • FOC phase, to deploy in full the ground and space infrastructure as required for full operational capability;
  • Operations and service provision phase to operate the FOC infrastructure and provide navigation services over the system lifetime.

The definition, development, and IOV phases of Galileo were carried out by the European Space Agency (ESA) and co-funded by ESA and the European Union. The FOC phase is managed and fully funded by the European Union and supervised by the European Commission (EC). The EC and ESA have signed a delegation agreement under which ESA acts as design and procurement agent on behalf of the EC.

Galileo Early Services

ESA began navigation systems research and development in cooperation with the EC and the civil aviation community. The development strategy was conceived with two major pillars: the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS), a pan-European augmentation system, complementing GPS to deliver reliability information to users, and Galileo. Today, EGNOS is operational and certified, forming the basis of a wide range of general and safety-critical applications across the European continent.

Once Galileo becomes operational, a portfolio of navigation services will be offered by Galileo and EGNOS, based on varying user needs.

Galileo’s full operations and services will commence when all the satellites have been deployed, with the complete constellation of operational satellites and spares, supported by an extensive network of ground stations and local and regional service centres in their final configuration.

However, after a political decision by EC Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Galileo will start officially delivering Early Services as from the end of 2014.

Based on the space and ground configuration available in 2014, the following early services are targeted:

  • Open Service: delivery of stable E1, E5a, and E5b signals in space from a number of satellites in orbit, allowing users to perform ranging, E1 and E5a being interoperable with GPS;
  • Public Regulated Service: delivery of stable, secure E1 and E6 signals in space allowing pilot projects with EU Member States, to demonstrate PRS management capabilities;
  • Search and Rescue: guaranteed SAR forward link, which allows the detection and localization of COSPAS-SARSAT distress beacons;
  • Commercial Services: initial demonstration of precise positioning and authentication services with potential service providers.

The Early Services phase is being prepared in close coordination by engineers from the EC, the European GNSS Agency (GSA), and ESA. The activities include the definition and procurement of infrastructural assets other than the Galileo core system, namely the GNSS Service Centre, which is the interface with user communities, and the Galileo Reference Centre to monitor service performance. Organizational and operational pillars of the Early Services provision are also defined with the public and industrial organizations involved and their governance and with all processes required for the delivery of services with all their dynamics. A service definition document defining expected service behavior and non-functional properties will be made available to all users through the GNSS Service Centre website.

Figure 3. Galileo Early Services Organisation.

Figure 3. Galileo Early Services Organisation.

Service performance will be monitored by the Galileo Reference Centre over time by means of key performance indicators (KPIs), with target values and target ranges to be achieved over a certain time period. As far as processes are concerned, performance (quality, reliability, throughput), productivity (efficiency, effectiveness) and safeguards (security, safety) will be monitored over time.

Prior to official declaration of the Early Services, KPIs and technical performance will be monitored during a Service Validation Phase, aiming at a confirmation of the readiness of the overall service organization.

Figure 4. Service Validation Activities.

Figure 4. Service Validation Activities.

As part of the service validation, receiver and chipset manufacturers will be offered the possibility to test the performance of Galileo. The objective is to verify the market readiness and optimize Galileo use in a multi-constellation environment. A call for interest went out in July 2013, and leading mass-market chipset and professional receiver manufacturers have expressed interest in participating in the test campaign.

The tests have been adapted to the nature of the applications and markets targeted by each manufacturer. A first set of tests is planned at ESA, focusing on mass markets. These tests will evaluate assisted GNSS performance in difficult environments such as urban canyons. They will also address the need for a seamless switch from outdoor to indoor.

Another set of tests is planned at the European Union Joint Research Centre (JRC). They will respond to the needs of high-precision users, testing, for example, dual frequencies. Each test will be performed for different combinations of available GNSS to evaluate and demonstrate the added value of Galileo. The testing will start at the beginning of 2014 with laboratory tests based on simulated data and will continue during 2014 using real Galileo data.


Galileo will be an autonomous, global, European-controlled GNSS providing several guaranteed services to users equipped with Galileo-compatible receivers. From a value-chain viewpoint, Galileo is a system providing services meant to support or make feasible other service systems. Together with the introduction of state-of-the-art technology and of very complex system architecture, the delivery of sophisticated services is established on well-defined governance, operational, and regulatory bases.

After the successful completion of the IOV phase, Early Services will mark a new, substantial milestone towards the system’s full operational maturity and the exploitation of its capabilities and services.

Eric Chatre is the Head of Sector on Services and Exploitation for the EU Satellite Navigation Programmes in the European Commission, EC. Horst Faas is GNSS exploitation programme manager at the European GNSS Agency (GSA). Marco Lisi is GNSS services engineering manager at the European Space Agency.