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Galileo Provides Update on FOC Anomaly, GLONASS a No Show

September 10, 2014  - By
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Image: GPS World

Experts representing the Galileo Program provided a frank and open update on how it is addressing the problem of the first two full operational capability (FOC) satellites being delivered to the wrong orbit. The presentation was part of the panel discussion “Status of GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou, and QZSS” at ION GNSS+ Wednesday morning.

No one from Rocosmos attended to present information on the status of GLONASS. A Russian spokesperson had hoped to come but could not obtain a visa, for unknown reasons. There appear to be no Russians at the conference apart from one CEO of a Russian receiver manufacturing firm.

A new article in Nature magazine provides additional background on the Galileo FOC anomaly. Also, the CANSPACE listserv has been engaged in discussing the issue.

  • An inquiry board is looking into problem to find the root cause of the anomaly. The board has already met several times.
  • An intermediate report is due shortly; a final report and recommendations will come next month.
  • The European Space Agency (ESA) is considering what can be done with the two satellites; ESA hopes to be able to use them operationally as much as possible.
  • ESA is also looking at the impact on the commercial Galileo service and the search-and-rescue service.
  • ESA is already narrowing down the possible causes of the anomaly.
  • ESA is waiting for the enquiry board to report before deciding on when and how the next two satellites will be launched.
  • The payloads of the errant satellites are currently off.
  • ESA wants to try to raise the perigees of the satellites to get them out of the van Allan radiation belt as soon as possible to prevent damage to the satellites. Raising the perigrees will also to reduce the maximum Doppler frequency shift from 9.6 kHz to at least 6.8 kHz to allow receivers to easily acquire and track the satellites, but leave enough hydrazine for future station keeping.
  • ESA is looking at the almanac problem and whether unused bits in the Galileo navigation message might be able to support a special almanac for the satellites.
  • ESA is also looking at possible rephasing of the satellites to optimize their use with the other satellites in the constellation.
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About the Author:


Richard B. Langley is a professor in the Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) in Fredericton, Canada, where he has been teaching and conducting research since 1981. He has a B.Sc. in applied physics from the University of Waterloo and a Ph.D. in experimental space science from York University, Toronto. He spent two years at MIT as a postdoctoral fellow, researching geodetic applications of lunar laser ranging and VLBI. For work in VLBI, he shared two NASA Group Achievement Awards. Professor Langley has worked extensively with the Global Positioning System. He has been active in the development of GPS error models since the early 1980s and is a co-author of the venerable “Guide to GPS Positioning” and a columnist and contributing editor of GPS World magazine. His research team is currently working on a number of GPS-related projects, including the study of atmospheric effects on wide-area augmentation systems, the adaptation of techniques for spaceborne GPS, and the development of GPS-based systems for machine control and deformation monitoring. Professor Langley is a collaborator in UNB’s Canadian High Arctic Ionospheric Network project and is the principal investigator for the GPS instrument on the Canadian CASSIOPE research satellite now in orbit. Professor Langley is a fellow of The Institute of Navigation (ION), the Royal Institute of Navigation, and the International Association of Geodesy. He shared the ION 2003 Burka Award with Don Kim and received the ION’s Johannes Kepler Award in 2007.

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