Europe’s Galileo International GNSS Project


VS09 launch

US military receiver tracks & receives Galileo signal – why does this matter?; Satellite status update from August’s failed launch.

Sept 9/14: Military use. Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, IA, USA confirms that a new Secure Software Defined Radio Global Navigation Satellite System (S-SDR GNSS) receiver developed for secure military use under a $2 million USAF research contract has successfully received and tracked a Galileo satellite signal.

The theory has always been that GNSS satellites from other constellations could be used to improve a receiver’s reception and triangulation precision, even if the added signal doesn’t itself have M-code accuracy. Indeed, Boeing had an R&D contract that aimed to demonstrate this by adding Iridium communications satellites with “perfect” atomic time. The challenge was the cost, complexity, and weight/space demands involved. Software-defined receivers add the kind of flexibility that can accomplish this kind of task without costing a lot of extra weight and space. GPS is a complete GNSS constellation on its own, but extra accuracy without a lot of cost is always attractive, and the ability to do things like this means that even successful enemy attacks on the NAVSTAR GPS constellation could leave the US with slightly-degraded but still effective GPS-guidance for planes, vehicles, weapons, etc. We aren’t there yet, but this is an important step. Sources: Rockwell Collins, “Rockwell Collins Successfully Tracks Galileo Satellite Signal Using Newly Developed Secure Software Defined Receiver”.

Aug 28/14: Launch failure. Both satellites are stable and are generating electricity from deployed solar arrays. ESA continues to assess scenarios for making the best use of the satellites in a sub-par situation, and “different scenarios will then be assessed before decisions are taken for a recovery mission.” Sources: ESA, “Update on Galileo Launch Injection Anomaly”.

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Galileo concept(click to view full) The USA’s Global Positioning System service remains free, but the European Union is spending billions to create an alternative under their own control. In addition to civilian GPS (the Open Service), services to be offered include a Safety of Life Service (SoL) for civil aviation and search and rescue, a paid Commercial Service with accuracy greater than 1 meter, plus a Public Regulated Service (PRS) for use by security authorities and governments. PRS/SoL aims to offer Open Service quality, with added robustness against jamming and the reliable detection of problems within 10 seconds. Organizational issues and shortfalls in expected progress pushed the “Galileo” project back from its originally intended operational date of 2007 to 2014/15. After a public-private partnership model failed, the EU gained initial-stage approval for its plan to finance the program with tax dollars instead of the expected private investments. Political issues were overcome in 2007 by raiding other EU accounts for the billions required, but by 2011, it became clear that requests for billions more in public funds were on the way. Meanwhile, doubts persist in several quarters about Galileo’s touted economic model. Security concerns regarding China’s early involvement, and its potential […]

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