On Galileo, the European satellite navigation system.

Credit: ESA-Trimaran
The Europeans may soon be the new providers of satellite navigation services. The European community has been considering building its own satellite navigation constellation for many years and on Feb. 10, 1999, the European Commission (EC) recommended that the European Union (EU) develop and implement both space and ground segments for its next-generation global navigation satellite system (GNSS-2). The system will be given the name “Galileo” and will be compatible with the U.S. GPS. Galileo will be jointly funded by the EU and the European member states. The EC has suggested establishing revenue streams through fees for Galileo’s services and levies on receiver sales, including American-made receivers, within the EU.

What follows is a chronological description of the evolution of Galileo. As you will see, problems arise when you have too many players trying to make decisions. There are four agencies involved with Galileo at this time: the EC, the EU, the EU Council of Transport Ministers and the European Space Agency (ESA).

In 1999, EC suggested two possible configurations for Galileo: a constellation of 21 satellites in mid-Earth orbit; or a 36-satellite constellation, also in mid-Earth orbit.

On May 12, 1999, a study addressing the constellation and ground system necessary to control test satellites called GalileoSat was undertaken. ESA approved the GalileoSat program and set a budget of 40 million Euros (exchange rates change daily, but a Euro is now worth approximately $1.15) for the initial definition study. The study needed the approval of the EU, which came on June 17, 1999, after the EU Council of Transport Ministers passed a resolution allocating the 40 million Euros. It also established a total program development budget of 470 million Euros.

On Dec. 7, 1999, the ESA signed a 20 million Euro GalileoSat definition study contract with a 50-company consortium led by Italy’s Alenia Amospazio to develop the basic concepts for a satellite constellation and its ground system. Their vision for GalileoSat would place at least 21 satellites, in mid-Earth orbit at an altitude of 24,000 kilometers, with a likely complement of geostationary satellites at 36,000 kilometers. Two days later, Dec. 9, the EC announced the award of four research contracts totaling 37.5 million Euros. The prime purpose of these contracts was to define the mission specifications, global architecture and the system requirements. At that time, it called for operations to begin in 2005 with a full system in place by 2008.

Then, in January of 2002, the ESA voted to expend an additional 20 million Euros to continue design work. The EC and ESA have agreed to share the public costs of the system development.

Developed by ESA in collaboration with the EU and co-funded by the two organizations, Galileo is expected to be operational by 2008. Credit: ESA-J. Huart
The EU Council of Transport Ministers authorized the immediate release of 100 million Euros from EC funds in April of 2002. The money will be matched by an equivalent amount from ESA. The ESA has proposed a 30-satellite constellation in middle Earth orbit in three orbital planes. The estimated cost to build and launch a fully operational system by 2008 is 3.3 billion Euros.

In “Galileo Defined,” an article published in GPS World in September 2001, Javier Benedicto and Daniel Ludwig, from the Galileo project, described the signal and frequency plan. “Definition studies called for four frequency bands to carry Galileo signals. Four frequencies have been allocated, two occupying the lower L band (E5 and E6) and two occupying the upper L band (E1 and E2).”

  • E1: 1587 to 1591 MHz. This band would accommodate a signal for the Open and Safety-of-Life services.

  • E2: 1559 to 1563 MHz. This band would accommodate a signal for the Public-Regulated service.

  • E5: 1164 to 1188 MHz. This band has a total bandwidth of 24 MHz and has been allocated for Open and Safety-of-Life services.

  • E6: 1260 to 1300 MHz. This band will accommodate 40 MHz bandwidth dedicated to Public-Related services.

The authors also stated that “Europe is still open to signal scenarios based on sharing L1 and L5 frequencies with GPS and GLONASS. Ongoing studies are trying to identify the best solution for the Galileo signal.”

At a Dec. 7, 2001, meeting EU Council of Transport Ministers adjourned debate without reaching a decision on whether to authorize 650 million Euros to match recently approved funds from ESA to begin building the system. Opposition to approving the funds was led by the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands. EC president Romano Prodi decried the Transport Ministers’ inaction, and the EC Vice President, Loyola de Palacio, threatened to withdraw the Galileo project from consideration if an unambiguous approval did not come soon.

Prior to the December 7th Transport Ministers meeting, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz sent a letter to EU defense ministers expressing his “concerns about security ramifications for future NATO operations if the EU proceeds with Galileo Satellite Navigation Services that would overlay spectrum of the GPS military M-code signals.” Wolfowitz’s letter argued that Galileo overlays “will significantly complicate our ability to ensure availability of critical GPS services in time of crisis or conflict and at the same time assure that adversary forces are denied similar capabilities.”

The U.S. Defense Department’s intervention may have increased support for Galileo. A person closely associated with the project stated, “the fact that the U.S. brought pressure on the European governments had certainly a reverse effect, that is, to confirm to the European governments the strategic interest of Galileo and, therefore, a strong need for political support at the highest level.” Speaking December 18th on the 40th anniversary of France’s National Space Agency, French President Jacques Chirac referred to the Galileo dispute in a warning that lack of investment in space research threatened to make Europe a “vassal” of the United States.

On March 7, 2003, the U.S. State Department noted “The United States government sees no compelling need for Galileo because GPS is expected to meet the needs of users around the world for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, should Europe decide to go forward with Galileo, the United States would be interested in cooperation to ensure that Galileo is interoperable with GPS and benefits users on both sides of the Atlantic.”

On March 26, 2003, the 15-member European Council of Transport Ministers voted unanimously to release 450 million Euros to implement Galileo.

Galileo will be comprised of 30 satellites positioned in three circular orbits 23,616 km above the Earth. Credit: ESA

PRS Overlay

The proposed overlay of Galileo’s Public Regulated Service (PRS) on the new GPS military code is a matter of concern to the United States. Of the services proposed for Galileo, PRS is intended for use by police, emergency workers and national security services. Under the draft plan put forth by the EC, one of the signals for the PRS would either directly overlay or straddle the new GPS military M-code centered at 1227.6 MHz. The United States wants to be able to jam the Galileo signals in times of conflict to keep it from being used by enemy forces. A PRS signal at the 1227.6 MHz location cannot be jammed without also jamming the M-code.

The EU wants to deny the United States the ability to jam unless it has input into the decision. The biggest objector is France; not all EU members agree on the need for PRS services. At its Dec. 5, 2002, meeting the Transport Council agreed to include PRS in the statement of work for all of Galileo’s services.

On May 27, 2003, CNN.com announced “European governments have given the final go-ahead for the launch of the Galileo Satellite Navigation Network.” The final agreement was reached a day earlier at a meeting in Paris of members of ESA. The announcement pointed out that “unlike the American GPS system, Galileo will be under full civilian control.” The final configuration will comprise 30 satellites (27 operational and three spares) positioned in three circular orbits 23,616 kilometers above the Earth. The Galileo home page, http://europa.eu.int/comm /dgs/energy_transport/galileo/index_en.htm, verifies the configuration.

On June 16th the ESA and the EC established the Galileo Joint Undertaking (JU) to prepare for the Galileo program deployment and operational phase, which is expected to end with the selection of a concession holder to take charge of running the future Galileo operating company. According to the ESA, that private entity will finish deployment of the constellation and finalize installation of the ground segment necessary to complete the system. It will then manage the operational phase. The JU can now proceed with the various steps towards setting up the Galileo network.

On July 11th, contracts for the first two Galileo satellites were signed by the British firm Surrey Space Technology Limited and the consortium Galileo Industries SA headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. The contracts are worth 27.9 million Euros and 72.3 million Euros, respectively and will provide experimental satellites to be launched during the last half of 2005 to secure the frequencies reserved for the Galileo system with the International Telecommunications Union. These signals must be sent by June of 2006 at the latest to retain the priority allocated when the frequencies were applied for.

That’s the status of Galileo at the time of this writing. In my opinion, if the United States doesn’t start the GPS modernization program soon, Galileo will be the navigation system of choice worldwide. POB will continue to keep you informed of changes.