When Will Galileo be Ready?

The official opening on 20th December 2010 of the Fucino Galileo Control Centre, 130km east of Rome, has brought the Galileo global navigation satellite system one step closer to fruition. However, a continuing shortage of funding for the project suggests that while Galileo will be available by 2014, the service will initially be limited.

Earlier in 2010, the European Commission confirmed that funding was available to launch four in-orbit validation (IOV) satellites by 2014, with the first two of these scheduled for launch in August 2011. Funds are also available for 14 full operational capability (FOC) satellites, with deployment planned to start in late 2012. However, this total of 18 satellites to be in orbit by 2014 is only 60% of the originally planned 30-satellite constellation.

While the original plan of 30 satellites organised in three orbital planes of ten satellites each would have guaranteed that any Galileo receiver anywhere on earth would have access to at least four satellites at any given time, the curtailed 18-satellite constellation will not be able to provide such guaranteed coverage. However, working in conjunction with GPS and other GNSSs, Galileo will still be able to play a major role in improving global navigation services using multi-GNSS receivers.

Even without the necessary satellites in place, GNSS receiver designers can now prepare their Galileo-capable receivers using Spirent family of multi-GNSS simulators, which already have the capability of simulating Galileo navigation signals, both alone and in combination with GPS and GLONASS signals.

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