Galileo is Europe’s own Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control.

On 21 October 2011 the first two of four operational satellites were launched to validate the system. The next two followed on 12 October 2012, making it "possible to test Galileo end-to-end". Once this In-Orbit Validation (IOV) phase has been completed, additional satellites will be launched to reach Initial Operational Capability (IOC) around mid-decade. The first determination of a position relying on signals emitted only from Galileo satellites was achieved on 12 March 2013. 

New Galileo satellite launches are on the agenda after a decision from the College of Commissioners announced by European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowska. The first launch of two satellites was succesfully executed at the end of March from the European Space Port of Kourou in French Guyana. On September 10th two additional Galileo satellites (FOC-M3 and SAT 9-10) were successfully launched into orbit from the European Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana.

As of June 2016, the Galileo space segment consists of 12 fully operational satellites with another 15 required to complete the core constellation. The first batch of 22 Galileo satellites will be delivered by OHB Systems in Bremen, Germany. Deployment of the next twelve satellites will use a specialised Ariane 5 launcher, named Ariane 5 ES, capable of placing four Galileo satellites into orbit per launch. The first launch with the Ariane 5 ES is scheduled for November 2016.

Overall, the Commission aims to have early Galileo services available by 2016 at the latest and full services available by 2020.

Galileo liftoff

Liftoff of Soyuz flight VS01 carrying the first two Galileo IOV satellites (Credit: ESA - S.Corvaja 2011) is funded by the European Union within Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, under grant agreement no 641615.