Galileo Milestone

With applications in areas as diverse as SAR, active vessel traffic management, port approach and ship-to-shore coordination, the Galileo European Navigation Satellite System is destined to play a major role in the future of shipping.

First Galileo PRS signal received

Another major milestone in the Galileo European Navigation Satellite System’s development and deployment programme has been achieved, as Septentrio and QinetiQ – in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) and their industrial partners – achieved the world’s first successful reception of the encrypted Galileo Public Regulated Service (PRS) signal from the first Galileo satellites (launched October 2011).

The signal was received on the Galileo PRS Test User Receiver (PRS-TUR) jointly developed by Septentrio and QinetiQ under an ESA contract. For the reception test, the receiver was installed in the Galileo Control Centre at Telespazio facilities in Fucino, Italy and operated by technical experts from ESA. This milestone builds on a number of previous major Septentrio/QinetiQ achievements including:

  • First ever laboratory demonstration of the PRS signal acquisition and tracking in QinetiQ (Malvern, UK, 2006)
  • Successful RF compatibility test between a Galileo payload and the PRS-TUR (Portsmouth, UK, 2010)
  • Successful Galileo end-to-end system test including the Galileo Ground Mission Segment (GMS) and its key management facilities, satellite and PRS-TUR (Rome, Italy, 2011)

Septentrio and QinetiQ are key long-term contributor to the Galileo Programme, working closely with ESA, the European GNSS Agency (GSA) and European industrial partners since 2003.

Peter Grognard, Founder and CEO of Septentrio Satellite Navigation, said: “Septentrio is extremely proud of this historic milestone for the Galileo programme. This is the most important milestone for Septentrio since the reception of the world’s first Galileo signal from space on January 12, 2006 with a Septentrio receiver. We are honoured and grateful for the excellent collaboration with ESA. Septentrio is marking another industry-first on the Galileo programme, and will continue playing a key role in this exciting and ambitious European project. Today, together with our partners, we take a decisive step in the early availability of commercial PRS receivers to foster user acceptance and market success of this Galileo service.”

Leo Quinn, CEO of QinetiQ, said: “I am very proud of the part QinetiQ is playing in the Galileo programme. Working closely with ESA and our industrial partners, we are delighted to have been able to deliver real value to the programme as seen by today’s milestone success. This achievement, together with Europe’s recent commitment to a full Galileo constellation, has been a necessary step in giving European industry confidence to start investing in developing commercial PRS receiver products ready for the launch of Galileo navigation services in a few years time.”

Source: ADS Advance

About Galileo

Galileo is Europe’s own global navigation satellite system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control. It is inter-operable with GPS and Glonass, the two other global satellite navigation systems.

By offering dual frequencies as standard, Galileo will deliver real-time positioning accuracy down to the metre range. It will guarantee availability of the service under all but the most extreme circumstances and will inform users within seconds of any satellite failure, making it suitable for safety-critical applications such as guiding cars, running trains and landing aircraft.

ESA’s first two navigation satellites, GIOVE-A and –B, were launched in 2005 and 2008 respectively, reserving radio frequencies set aside for Galileo by the International Telecommunications Union and testing key Galileo technologies.

Then on 21 October 2011 came the first two of four operational satellites designed to validate the Galileo concept in both space and on Earth. Two more will follow in 2012. Once this In-Orbit Validation (IOV) phase has been completed, additional satellites will be launched to reach Initial Operational Capability (IOC) around mid-decade.

Galileo services will come with quality and integrity guarantees which marks the key difference of this first complete civil positioning system from the military systems that have come before.

A range of services will be extended as the system is built up from IOC to reach the Full Operational Capability (FOC) by this decade’s end.

The fully deployed Galileo system consists of 30 satellites (27 operational + 3 active spares), positioned in three circular Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) planes at 23 222 km altitude above the Earth, and at an inclination of the orbital planes of 56 degrees to the equator.

Maritime transport applications

The maritime and inland waterways sectors are already a natural user of GNSS services: inter alia for track control,Container Ship ship-to-ship coordination, port approach and navigation, ship-to-shore coordination, shore-to-ship management, calamity abatement… With more than 50.000 ships around the world and 15.000 boats on EU inland waterways, EGNOS and Galileo, combined with GPS, can contribute to a safer and more efficient navigation owing to the better accuracy and availability provided.

The Search and Rescue (SAR) service of Galileo is also a key service for the safety of fishermen and sailors. Currently, in some situations of distress, several hours may be necessary to get the emergency beacon located by the emergency services. The future Galileo SAR service will be able to detect activated distress beacons and notify the appropriate rescue body almost in real time. Moreover, a return message will be sent to the emergency beacon, notifying the victims that their distress signal has been received and that help is on its way. In this context, the European Commission is a key actor to get Galileo SAR acknowledged by COSPAS SARSAT organisation.

The European Commission contributes to raising awareness of the advantages of EGNOS and Galileo among the maritime community. It also coordinates European efforts made at international level, under the auspices of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), to promote the use of Galileo as part of a World Wide Radio Navigation System, by updating the relevant resolutions thereof.

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