Galileo is the second-geneation global positioning system (gps). The current (and only) system is organized and controlled by the US government, which gives the US full control over any application. The resolution is 20 metres, and 24 sattelites are providing signals.
Galileo will do better:
With 30 satellites at such an altitude, there is a very high probability (more than 90%) that anyone anywhere in the world will always be in sight of at least four satellites and hence will be able to determine their position from the ranging signals broadcast by the satellites. The inclination of the orbits was chosen to ensure good coverage of polar latitudes, which are poorly served by the US GPS system.
From most locations, six to eight satellites will always be visible, allowing positions to be determined very accurately – to within a few centimetres. Even in high rise cities, there will be a good chance that a road user will have sufficient satellites overhead for taking a position, especially as the Galileo system will be interoperable with the US system of 24 GPS satellites.
The Galileo system will have five main services:
- Open Access Navigation: This will be 'free to air' and for use by the mass market; Simple timing and positioning down to 1 meter.
- Commercial Navigation (Encrypted): High accuracy to the centimeter; Guaranteed service for which service providers will charge fees.
- Safety Of Life Navigation: Open service; For applications where guaranteed accuracy is essential; Integrity messages will warn of errors.
- Public Regulated Navigation (Encrypted): Continuous availability even in time of crisis; Government agencies will be main users.
- Search And Rescue: System will pick up distress beacon locations; Feasible to send feedback, confirming help is on its way.
Afer 9/11 the US set pressure on Europe that the system should be controllable by them, fearing it might be exploited by terrorist groups. America, being the bossy big brother of Europe, caused discussions that delayed the whole thing.
Funding by the EU and external partners was difficult, so more delays, and shrinking the program were the result.
Internal discussions on contracts between the EU partners, and where to place the control center, resulted in the most absurd decision: two control centres wuill be built! (You only need one, for christ's sake).
At this time, Galileo is scaled down and delayed to 14 satellites operational in 2014, with an uncertain option to completion in 2017-2018. 14 sattelites would largely reduce the operational possibilities. Suggestions were made to keep it to 10 sats only, but the boss of the Galileo project stated that we "would fail to deliver the service of navigation 2 to 3 weeks every year" Seriously, who would buy this?
Financial uncertainty: Costs now are 250 million € /year, But the total cost over the next 20 years would be 20 billion €. All to be paid by a Europe in financial crisis. Big commercial companies have been drawing back from financing the project, because of the uncertainty of it. Long-term prospect is that the system will not make a profit.
It's Europe. All the way.
We have better technology than the US. We have more funding. We have a lot of advantages compared to the US. But we have no congruency, no "balls" to start something huge and finish it. Mostly because of political reasons. Europe is controlled by too many power groups. Every country wants a piece of the cake. Nobody really wants to invest.
As long as Europe is thinking as a conglomerate of 27 different countries, and not as a union, we should (sadly) refrain from global projects like this one.
courtesy of picture to ESA