On 15th of December 2016 Galileo Initial Services started with global coverage!
The Galileo system is finally live! The European Commission, owner of the system, formally announced the start of Galileo Initial Services yesterday. Galileo has a global coverage, with 18 satellites in orbit. At the moment, Galileo offers three service types: the Open Service (available for everyone and fully interoperable with GPS), the Public Regulated Service (available for authorised users) and the Search and Rescue Service. During this initial phase, the Galileo services will be not available all the time. Their coverage and their availability will increase in the next years. Four more satelites will be launched in 2017, and eight in 2018. The full constellation will consist of 24 satellites plus orbital spares.
From the EU Commission press release, a more detailed overview on the Galileo services available now:
- Support to emergency operations: Today it can take hours to detect a person lost at sea or in the mountains. With the Search and Rescue Service (SAR), people placing a distress call from a Galileo-enabled beacon can now be found and rescued more quickly, since the detection time will be reduced to only 10 minutes. This service should be later improved by notifying the sender of the emergency call that he/she has been located and help is underway.
- More accurate navigation for citizens: The Galileo Open Service will offer a free mass-market service for positioning, navigation and timing that can be used by Galileo-enabled chipsets in smartphones or in car navigation systems. A number of such smartphones have been on the market since autumn 2016 and they can now use the signals to provide more accurate positions. By 2018, Galileo will also be found in every new model of vehicle sold in Europe, providing enhanced navigation services to a range of devices as well as enabling the eCall emergency response system. People using navigation devices in cities, where satellite signals can often be blocked by tall buildings, will particularly benefit from the increase in positioning accuracy provided by Galileo.
- Better time synchronisation for critical infrastructures: Galileo will, through its high precision clocks, enable more resilient time synchronisation of banking and financial transactions, telecommunications and energy distribution networks such as smart-grids. This will help them operate more efficiently.
- Secure services for public authorities: Galileo will also support public authorities such as civil protection services, humanitarian aid services, customs officers and the police through the Public Regulated Service. It will offer a particularly robust and fully encrypted service for government users during national emergencies or crisis situations, such as terrorist attacks, to ensure continuity of services.
As stated by the EU commission and the ESA, Galileo is a great achievement for Europe and for the European technology.
All the info and the video can be found on the ESA website.