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EU successfully launches two Galileo satellites

Galileo, the EU’s satellite navigation programme, has just placed two more satellites into orbit. The lift-off took place on 27 March at 22.46 CET from the European spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana. We have received signals proving that they were positioned as expected.

The next launch of Galileo satellites is scheduled for September 2015. The Commission aims to ensure the provision of initial Galileo services by 2016 and full services by 2020.

With more launches planned, the availability and coverage of the Galileo signals is set to improve and increasingly benefit citizens.

Background

Satellite navigation services have become indispensable in our daily lives.

Galileo is the programme of the European Union to develop a global satellite navigation system under European civilian control. Galileo signals will allow users to know their exact position with outstanding accuracy.

Galileo will be compatible with and, for some of its services, interoperable with existing similar systems, but will be autonomous.

The improved positioning and timing information supplied by Galileo will have positive implications for many services and users in Europe. Products like in-car navigation devices and mobile phones will benefit from the extra accuracy provided by Galileo. Galileo’s satellite navigation data will also benefit critical services, for example it will make road and rail transport systems safer and improve our responses to emergency situations.

It will include features such as a global Search and Rescue function, which will be the first in the world to integrate almost real-time localisation of distress calls. This will help to save lives and reduce rescue crews’ exposure to risk.

Benefits are already being reaped from the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS), the European system to help improve the performance of global navigation satellite systems.

By building and operating Galileo, the European Union is investing in a very important sector for Europe’s economy. Galileo acts as a catalyst for research and development funding to high-tech companies, and fosters the creation of highly qualified jobs. Today more than 50 000 highly qualified jobs in Europe are linked to the satellite navigation industry and more than 300 European companies are involved in developing satellite navigation applications in transport, high-precision surveying, location-based services, agriculture or emergency services.

The services offered by Galileo will increasingly benefit people as more satellites are launched. The full Galileo network of 30 satellites and their supporting ground stations will be completed by 2020.

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