GALILEO, Europe’s global satellite navigation system is now a concrete reality. Today, the 600-Kilogram GIOVE-A satellite, manufactured by the British company Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, was placed in a 23,222 kilometres orbit by a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for transport declared: “radionavigation based on GALILEO will be a feature of everyday's life, helping to avoid traffic jams and tracking dangerous cargos, for example. The launch of GIOVE today is the proof that Europe can deliver ambitious projects to the benefit of its citizens and companies”.
The GIOVE mission (Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element) comprises 2 satellites (GIOVE-A and B). GIOVE tests critical new technologies (such as the on-board atomic clocks, signal generator and user receivers) and validates the new features of the Galileo signal design, characterises the radiation environment of the Medium Earth Orbits (MEOs) planned for the Galileo satellites and secures access to the Galileo frequencies allocated by the International Telecommunications Union.
For GIOVE, a ground segment has been deployed, consisting of a worldwide network of sensor stations collecting high-quality Galileo data, an Experimental Precision Timing Station providing the reference time scale using Universal Time and International Atomic Time, and a Processing Centre at ESA-ESTEC in The Netherlands.
The complete 30 satellites Galileo constellation, specifically designed for civil use, will eventually offer citizens and institutional users state-of-the-art global positioning and timing services with outstanding accuracy, availability, integrity and a guaranteed signal.
GALILEO is Europe's satellite radio navigation programme. It was launched on the initiative of the European Commission and developed jointly with the European Space Agency (ESA). Contrary to existing navigation systems, the GALILEO programme will be administered and controlled by civilians and offers an unparalleled guarantee of quality and continuity which is essential for many sensitive applications. It will thus prepare for the development of a new generation of universal services in areas such as transport, telecommunications, agriculture and fisheries.
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