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What is GALILEO?

GALILEO is a new satellite system initiated by the European Union (EU), European Space Agency and European Industry. It is an alternative to the existing GPS network, which is owned by the US government, who can disable or limit GPS’ services as and when it feels it necessary (e.g. during times of war).

GALILEO will mean the EU, along with other countries such as China and India who have invested in the project, are no longer dependent upon GPS. It has a greater accuracy due to high performance clocks and offers a better coverage than GPS in more difficult conditions and in more difficult to reach regions. Northern European countries in especially will benefit, as GPS doesn’t serve these countries particularly well. In some cases GALILEO will be fully compatible with GPS and also work together with this system.

The project began in 2003 and ‘Giove-A’, the first of the 30 GALILEO satellites, was launched on 28 December 2005 from a station in Kazakhstan. The other 29 will gradually be going into orbit from 2006 onwards. GALILEO should be fully operational in 2008. So far project costs are estimated at 3.4 billion Euros.


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