Bangalore (India) - Galileo, a European project that aims to create a civilian global navigation infrastructure, has reached a major milestone as the European Space Agency (ESA) today reported that the Giove-A satellite has transmitted the first navigation message.
Giove-A is the first of 30 satellites that the ESA and the European Commission plan to deploy at an altitude of 23,222 km to build “Galileo”, a global navigation system that is compatible with the American GPS and the Russian GLONASS. However, while Galileo will be compatible with these two older systems, it does not have a military background and is intended to secure Europe’s independence from GPS and GLONASS.
According to the ESA, a first navigation message including a navigation signal and a navigation message was uplinked to Giove-A on May 2 from the Guildford ground station. The organization explained that the message was similar to those that will be sent by the operational Galileo system and contained the information needed to measure the distance from the satellite to the user receiver
Giove-A has been transmitting general signals since January 12 of last year, ESA said.
According to the organization, Galileo will be able to provide navigation data with an accuracy of about 1 meter or about 3 ft. When fully installed, Galileo will consist of 30 satellite, organized at an inclination of the orbital planes of 56 degrees. 27 of the satellites will be operational and three will act as active spares. ESA expects that the navigation system will provide coverage up to the North Cape.
Galileo is expected to be fully deployed by 2012, with operation beginning in 2008. Compared to today’s GPS, Galileo will also have a commercial component, allowing technology firms to create fee-based, “value-added” services for the system.