Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Galileo project... Failure of Europe

I'm quite a fan of the European union. I think  they accomplish things that would never be possible in individual countries. But there's failure, too. Big failure. Like the Galileo project.

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:

When Galileo, Europe's own global satellite navigation system, is fully operational, there will be 30 satellites in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) at an altitude of 23 222 kilometres.
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


  1. its not long until europe becomes a union

  2. with obama at the reigns, us dominance in the industry is gonna fall

  3. It's true, Europe is thinking as a conglomerate of 27 different countries

  4. If it was between living in Europe and USA, I would go to Europe all the way :)

  5. nice man love it... and picture is nice

  6. Absolutely fantastic post. It's amazing we are still using knowledge discovered many years ago. Lets hope we can make a few more major breakthroughs in out lifetime

  7. Sorry man, us American's can be real douche bags some (most) the time.

  8. So, on your patence evermore attending, Following!

  9. Very intriguing. Dont forget to check out

  10. Europe may have more funding and technology than the US, but might it only be because Europe has more countries? Europe would need to become a Union before I would consider it much of a leader relative to the US (not to say that the US is necessarily superior).

    Regardless, it sucks that the project was downscaled-- perhaps other new projects will take over where this left off.

  11. i agree Europe has no balls on awesome projects like this but is more concerned with defunct policies like the common fisheries policy that forces european fisherman to thrown away half of their catch because they have not got a quota for it! What a waste of animal life.


  12. I'm with the bears who think that the EU will fragment - or at least split into a core and satellites (no pun intended).

    After 200 years of monetary union, Scotland is still an economic sink-hole.

  13. Really interesting read, thanks for posting this

  14. Very informative. Great post.

    I'm very interested in stuff like this.

  15. wow, never knew about the galileo project. gonna crawl the net for additional info now, pretty interesting.

  16. Europe ... worst band EVER and now they into space???

  17. I didn't even know about this. But, as usual, America has to come around and poke our fat noses into everyone else's business. It's like we're terrified another country might do something cooler than us.

  18. why should we refrain? we will get it done eventually. and it will be AWESOME.