The Galileo Programme

What is 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.

The European Commission aims to have early Galileo services available by 2016 at the latest and full services available by 2020

The Galileo System Architecture

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 

The Galileo ground infrastructure will be composed of:

  • 30-40 sensor stations;
  • 3 control centres;
  • 9 Mission Uplink stations;
  • 5  telemetry, tracking and command (TT&C) stations
Galileo system architecture

Galileo today - Operational Status

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". Upon completion of this In-Orbit Validation (IOV), additional satellites were launched, with the goal of reaching Initial Operational Capability (IOC) by the end of 2016. 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.

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. is funded by the European Union within Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, under grant agreement no 641615.