The European navigation system Galileo is launched

The European navigation system Galileo is launched
15/12/2016Press releases

The European Commission announced today that it is starting – for the first time ever – its satellite navigation system Galileo. This makes Europe among the top world players in satellite navigation such as the USA and its popular GPS system, used now for decades, Russia with its GLONASS system and China with BeiDou. The users and owners of smartphones equipped with corresponding receivers will be able to use the signal from the Galileo satellites and, combined with the GPS system, have reception even in locations where it has been impossible or very difficult so far.

The European navigation system Galileo is launched

The European Commission first mentioned the Galileo system in February 1999 when it started on its implementation. The European Commission is the main sponsor of the Galileo programme, but it authorised the Prague-based GSA agency to provide the first services. The first two experimental satellites Giove-A and Giove-B were launched in 2005 and 2008 and the European navigation satellite GalileoSat was designed based on the experience gained from them. The Galileo navigation system will consist of at least 24 operating satellites and six back-up satellites, all of which will orbit at an elevation of approx. 23,000 km above the Earth’s surface. There are currently 18 satellites in orbit and the remaining 12 are to be launched by 2020.

Better signal coverage and more accurate positioning

All users equipped with a Galileo receiver, e.g. in their smartphones, will soon be able to use the signal from the GalileoSat satellites. The signal from the Galileo system was designed in such a way that it is compatible with GPS. In locations with poor or no signal, e.g. in city streets with high-rise buildings obstructing a direct view of the sky, the Galileo system will fill the gaps in coverage of the GPS system. As the number of the Galileo satellites in orbit continues to grow, users will see not only better signal coverage, but also higher positioning accuracy.

Like the American GPS system, Galileo will offer free-of-charge positioning through the so-called Open-source service (OS) for all users. Furthermore, an encrypted Public Regulated Service (PRS) will be launched and available only to public authorities for protection of citizens, the fire rescue service, customs officers and the Czech Police. The third service to be launched is the Search and Rescue Service (SAR), the European contribution to the distress alert detection and information distribution system Cospas-Sarsat. SAR will reduce the time needed to detect the location of vessels during maritime emergencies or for locating persons lost in the mountains from three hours to ten minutes. From the very beginning, Galileo also guarantees high accuracy of time information, which will be useful primarily for the telecommunications sector, the banking industry for synchronisation of financial transactions and the energy sector for synchronisation of power distribution grids.
While there were only three producers of chip sets compatible with the Galileo system in 2010, today we can find 17 such companies. This constitutes over 95% of the global supply. In addition, the receiver for the Galileo system will be integrated into all types of vehicles approved for Europe, equipped with the emergency eCall system. You can find the growing list of equipment and chip sets compatible with Galileo at All information on product development and services compatible with the Galileo system is available on the GNSS website at

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