back to article Galileo, Galileo, Galileo good to go!

Not one but two of the European Space Agency's Galileo satellite navigation craft were successfully launched in the small hours of Europe's Friday morning. The two new satellites, Galileo-9 and Galileo-10, aka “Alba” and “Oriana” will be joined in orbit later in 2015 by another pair. One of those birds is ready to fly, the …

  1. 8Ace

    Announcer?

    Did they borrow that lady on the vid from radio 4 ?

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Announcer?

      Not sure I'd describe a rocket as "pulling" (possible exception for the "Thing to help people escape really fast if there's a problem and everything is on fire so they decide not to go to space")

      They tend to push against propellant...

      1. FrogsAndChips

        Re: Announcer?

        Upvoted for the Upgoer Five reference.

  2. John Sager

    When can we use the system?

    The GPS app on my phone (Nexus 5) shows GPS and GLONASS sats, and it even uses a couple of GLONASS sats in the fix, but no sign of Galileo sats yet. I'm assuming that modern correlators can be set up to lock onto the Galileo signals & 'it's just software'.

    1. S4qFBxkFFg

      Re: When can we use the system?

      Yes - ISTR that the frequencies are close enough that the same chips/antennae can receive navstar/glonass/galileo/beidou signals, so it may just require the software (or firmware?) to be updated.

      Certainly, I'd be very surprised if anyone making or selling phones in China hasn't been told to make them beidou compatible. The Russians used legal force to make all smartphones sold there glonass compatible, but in China it probably only requires a quiet word with the factory owners.

    2. your handle is already taken
      Go

      Re: When can we use the system?

      There is already a European system called European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS)[1] in place but because it uses Geo and not Leo I think the inclination is too low for all but aircraft so it hasn't seen widespread commercialisation. EGNOS improves upon GPS, the USians have a similar Geo overlay system of their own called Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS)[2].

      The umbrella organisation for EGNOS and Galileo is the European Global Navigation Satellite Services (GNSS) Agency (GSA aaaargh, what's with all the acronyms?)[3] . But the main info for Galileo appears to be on the European Space Agency's (ESA) website. For instance this page[4] answers your question with, "Initial services will be made available by the end of 2016. Then as the constellation is built-up beyond that, new services will be tested and made available, with system completion scheduled for 2020."

      Anyway, 10 satellites up, 20 to go. 24 will be in use, 6 backup. 2 have been going up at a time using Russian hardware recently. As of next year a modified Ariane 5 launcher will send up 4 at a time[5] which will bring the system up quicker but if something goes wrong with the launch more tech will potentially be a risk.

      [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Geostationary_Navigation_Overlay_Service

      [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wide_Area_Augmentation_System

      [3] http://www.gsa.europa.eu/

      [4] http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Navigation/The_future_-_Galileo/What_is_Galileo

      [5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_%28satellite_navigation%29#Full_Operational_Capability_.28FOC.29_satellites

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: When can we use the system?

        tl;dr but I'll just assume it was a cool story.

  3. CAPS LOCK

    The EU doesn't need GPS...

    ... it needs LoRaN, which is much cheaper. So what are we buying? GPS!

    1. Kerry Hoskin

      Re: The EU doesn't need GPS...

      but Loran-C isn't as capable as GPS or GLONASS or any other satellite based system and most of the stations have been shut down. The UK is putting some investment into eLoran but Loran is pretty much only used for maritime navigation. Bring back DECCA I say! far better than that American Loran rubbish!

      1. Martin Budden Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: The EU doesn't need GPS... @ Kerry Hoskin

        Upvoted for DECCA!

    2. A Known Coward

      Re: The EU doesn't need GPS...

      The EU want a global system that can be used by EU businesses, citizens where ever they are operating in the world. Galileo offers total coverage, loran doesn't even come close. They also want a system which is more accurate than GPS, not less. eLoran offers accuracy to about 8 metres, Galileo to within an inch.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: The EU doesn't need GPS...

        Why couldn't Loran be used globally?

        All you need to do is march ashore, plant a flag, claim the territory and setup a Loran transmitter.

        Any problems with the natives can be dealt with by a bit of cold steel - "they don't like it up em"

  4. Drudgery Leak

    Galileo is a commercially-based system and you will have to pay for access to the codes that give more accurate positioning.

    1. your handle is already taken

      > Galileo is a commercially-based system and you will have to pay for access to the codes that give more accurate positioning.

      Eh?

      Galileo was a public-private partnership way back when but since 2007 (I believe) funding has come completely from EU (i.e. EU citizen taxes) coffers. I'd be happy to be proven wrong. I'm also led to believe that what Galileo has going for it is that it is a _civilian_ system rather than _military_ system, unlike GPS. So, being civilian and publicly financed I'm failing to see in what way Galileo is commercially-based and could charge for access to certain codes that give more accurate positioning. It was my impression also that Galileo is not tiered unlike GPS and that the single tier that Galileo provides is a good deal more accurate that the non-military tier of GPS. I know I have not provided any sources, but I thought all this information was pretty widely known?

      1. Bob H

        Wikipedia isn't exactly authoritative but:

        "The use of basic (low-precision) Galileo services will be free and open to everyone. The high-precision capabilities will be available for paying commercial users. Galileo is intended to provide horizontal and vertical position measurements within 1-metre precision, and better positioning services at high latitudes than other positioning systems."

        The BBC confirms this:

        http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4555276.stm

        "COMMERCIAL NAVIGATION: Encrypted; High accuracy at the cm scale; Guaranteed service for which service providers will charge fees."

        1. your handle is already taken

          Ah all right. It has a free and open tier and a commercial tier. Good to know. I wonder then how the basic (low-precision) Galileo free and open service compares to the current free and open GPS tier?

          1. A Known Coward

            "how the basic (low-precision) Galileo free and open service compares to the current free and open GPS tier?"

            The uncorrected free tier guarantees accuracy within 1 metre, compared to GPS which provides uncorrected accuracy within 15 metres. These are the worst case scenarios with a good lock, obviously GPS performs better than that in the real world, a consumer grade receiver will usually average around 4m at best, but similarly you can expect the average performance of Galileo to be far better too - if it compares to GPS, then you could an average best of 30cm from the free service.

            The Galileo commercial tier guarantees accuracy to within 1cm. This is marginally better than survey grade GPS augmented with RTK which is within 30cm but normally averages within 'a few centimetres'.

            These figures are changing all the time, GPS accuracy is being improved all the time, especially the with the use of correction services, and until Galileo is fully operational the claims made for the system are unproven. However the accuracy of Galileo's free service was enough to scare the US into formally protesting the project and threatening the EU, but probably not for the reasons you think - the US government makes a lot of money from their commercial GPS and Galileo represents a threat to that business.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        It isn't a coded second channel like the original military GPS.

        The paid for service is differential correction signal - just like the ones you can currently buy for GPS.

        What isn't clear is how Galileo hopes to monitise this when anyone with a fixed Galileo recover and a web site can offer their own free or paid for correction signal.

  5. phuzz Silver badge

    So what happens to the Fregat upper stage after the two satellites have disconnected from it? Does it then get de-orbited?

    1. Pete4000uk

      I would think so

  6. Stratman

    Has the row between Right Pondians and Left Pondians been resolved?

    The one where the LPs demanded the keys to Galileo so they could switch it off whenever it felt like it?

  7. druck Silver badge
    Unhappy

    2 steps forward and 3 steps back

    They've launched another 2, but they are 3 down, with one having a transmitter failure and two in incorrect orbits which will probably make them impossible to use. It's going to be tough getting to 30 satellites in orbit by 2020 without spunking billions more of EU tax payers money.

    1. FrogsAndChips

      Re: 2 steps forward and 3 steps back

      The "incorrect orbits" for both sats were fixed 6 and 9 months ago, they are perfectly usable today.

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/03/18/galileo_smallgalileosmall_galileo_good_to_go_after_sixweek_recovery_effort/

      1. druck Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: 2 steps forward and 3 steps back

        They've got them in to a theoretically usable but still incorrect orbit, and they aren't currently operational, only in test configuration. They may prove not be suitable to join the main consolation, but could still be used for search and rescue work.

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

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