GNSS Galileo (Source:

In the 80s, the European Union (EU) discovered a political as well as an economical need for a Satellite Navigation system, similar to the American Global Positioning System (GPS), yet under European control. For this reason the Galileo Joint System (GJU), as a collective Institute of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the EU, was founded. Around the end of 2006, this Institute was replaced by the Galileo Supervising Authority (GSA), established in Brussels.

Galileo will consist of 30 Satellites, in three orbital levels and in an orbital height of 23000 km, and a worldwide network of ground stations. Galileo is the European contribution to the Global Satellite Navigation System (GNSS). It was reckoned to be completed in 2008. Due to delays in variable areas, political as well as technical, its readiness has been delayed.

Galileo orbits (Source:

The original cost aim was 3.4 Billion Euro. But newer estimations assume that there will be an additional demand of round about 1.9 Billion Euro. Galileo will be independent of already existing Systems, but will be compatible with them. This applies especially for GPS, but, as far as possible, also for the Russian GLONASS-System. 

Galileo Implementation Plan

Galileo System Testbed v1

Validation of critical algorithms


Galileo System Testbed v2

Launch of 2 initial test satellites


In-Orbit Validation

Launch of 4 IOV satellites and beginning of ground segment operation


Initial Operational Capability

Allocation of the first services (OS, SAR, PRS) with 18 satellites


Full Operational Capability

Allocation of all services with 30 satellites


After a successful System definition, Galileo is in the In-Orbit Validation (IOV)-Phase, with the target of verifying the fulfilling of specific demands by the System definition, before the actual build of the System can be started. In the framework of the IOV-Phase, next to the successfully started experimental satellites Giove-A and B, four additional Galileo-Satellites will follow. All Giove-Satellites have the primary function of securing the Galileo frequencies, yet also serve as a test of technology. On the ground the facilities needed for the System verification are being installed. Altogether the IOV-Phase is being carried by the EU as well as by the ESA.

If the IOV-Phase is completed, Galileo starts with the Initial Operational Capability (IOC)-Phase. At that time the first services like OS, SAR and PRS will be available with overall 18 satellites in orbit.

The readiness of the system is aimed at in the following Full Operation Capability (FOC)-Phase. The costs for this Phase should originally have been carried by a Public Private Partnership (PPP). After failed negotiations, the build-up of Galileo will be financed by the public authorities. The second Step will be that a private consortium takes over the business. The EC declared that the reasons for failure of the negotiations with the PPP were different evaluations of the market risks, which, contrary to the original expectations, can’t be carried by the consortium of users. Also, the EC confirmed in their recommendation the need for Galileo as an important infrastructure for a modern society, as well as the validity and robustness of the System’s specifications as a result of ten years of successful work and design and technical qualification of the Galileo system by ESA and the industry. To minimise the effects of a delayed market entry, especially with regard to the competition with the modernised GPS, no major changes to the System design will be made. In the recommendation of the EC, the ESA remains in charge of system design and acquisition and will, under guidance of the EC, construct the Galileo-System responsibly. In this context the public authorities take over the full development risks. 

Galileo will be the first Infrastructure that will be owned by the EU, represented by the European Commission (EC).  Finally Galileo will be run by the concessionaire – initially for a period of 20 years.

The GSA supports the EC, especially in the acquisition of a new EGNOS- and Galileo-concession as well as in the development of applications. Negotiations about the operation of Galileo and EGNOS until 2030 by a PPP are supposed to be held in parallel.

At the moment Galileo is reckoned to be fully operational by 2020.