The Galileo satellite navigation system launched its initial services in December 2016, according to the Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA). The aim of the initial services phase is to allow for the detection of technical issues before the system becomes fully operational.
Galileo’s first experimental satellite was launched in 2005. The service began offering initial operational capabilities in 2016. The full constellation would include 30 satellites – 24 operational and six active spares.
The program was designed in part to offer a civilian-operated alternative to the U.S. GPS and Russian GLONASS systems. Positioning services at a 1-meter resolution are available to the public and a 1 cm. capability is reserved for paid commercial users.
On July 12, 2019, the BBC reported the Galileo network had suffered an outage related to ground infrastructure. The outage meant that receivers would not be able to pick up usable timing and position information from the Galileo satellite constellation.
The BBC quoted a GSA official who noted, “People should remember that we are still in the 'initial services' phase; we're not in full operation yet."
According to reports, the network's search and rescue function, which helps pinpoint boat crews or hikers in distress, is unaffected.
The Galileo system is expected to be fully operational by 2020.