European industry learns Galileo status, considers post-2020 future

January 29, 2018  - By

The European Space Agency (ESA) held its annual Navigation Days on Jan. 26. ESA navigation specialists met with guests from the European Commission, European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency and European space companies at ESA’s technical centre in the Netherlands.

News from the European Space Agency

With Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system only one launch away from full global coverage, representatives of the European space industry gathered at ESA’s centre in the Netherlands to discuss the transition towards the future Galileo Second Generation.

Galileo Initial Services began on Dec. 15, 2016, while the constellation in orbit has grown to 22 satellites. An Ariane 5 launch later this year of another quartet will bring the constellation to the point of completion with 24 satellites, plus two orbital spares.

A steady stream of orbital spares, ready to replace satellites reaching the end of their operational lives, is necessary to ensure Galileo continues operating seamlessly. A further 12 satellites were therefore ordered from industry in June 2017.

Paul Verhoef, director of the Galileo Programme addresses the audience at ESA’s annual Navigation Days, held Jan. 26. (Photo: ESA)

Looking further ahead, with the aim of keeping Galileo services as a permanent part of the European and global landscape, a replacement set of Galileo satellites will be required post-2020, serving as transition to a future generation.

The Galileo Second Generation is foreseen to offer improved performance and added features. This is why the European Commission has decided on a Transition Programme, with the European Space Agency (ESA) in charge of its technical definition and implementation.

Together with the European Commission and the European Global Navigation Satellite System Agency, the agency invited leading European space companies to its technical centre in Noordwijk for Navigation Days, held Jan. 26, to discuss Galileo’s future and present short-term plans in relation to this transition programme.

Having started with the ESA European Global Navigation Satellite System Evolutions Programme (EGEP), the system and technology development of Galileo Second Generation is being supported through the EU’s GNSS and Horizon 2020 HSNAV Programmes, with ESA being delegated its technical definition and management of its related implementation.

Eleven Phase-B contracts were signed at the meeting for the Design Phase for both the Galileo Second Generation and the Transition Programme, complementing the more than 50 technology contracts signed in 2017 to prepare for Galileo’s future.

In recent years, innovations have been analysed and predevelopments performed in various technology fields (system, ground, space, receiver technologies) in order to assess their suitability for future Galileo activities, while ensuring backward compatibility and continuity of Galileo Services.

In the next eight months, all major public and private stakeholders will be involved in the detailed assessment of the different evolution scenarios and associated technologies, in order to come to decisions on the Transition Programme baseline for the evolution towards Galileo Second Generation.

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.