Galileo is the programme, originated from the co-operation between the European Union and the European Space Agency (ESA), aimed at improving the technological self-sufficiency of Europe and at defining the international standards for Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). The purpose of the programme is the realisation of a satellite navigation system capable of providing a reliable and highly accurate global positioning service and interoperable with the American GPS system and the Russian GLONASS system.
Galileo, when fully operational, will consist of a constellation of 30 MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) satellites, 24 operational and 6 as back-ups in orbit, and of many ground infrastructures. With the last four satellites, launched from Kourou (French Guyana) on
Galileo is conceived to meet, through its characteristics and performance, the requirements of a wide range of activities, including transport (air, railway, road and maritime), telecommunications (geo-location services), the latter including those requiring security standards.
The first services have been available since late 2016; the system will be completed within 2020. The first four service typologies offered by the system are distinguished according to the signal type - in clear or encrypted - and to the different needs of end users. These activities are: Open Service (OS), Commercial Service (CS), Public Regulated Service (PRS) for security operators (police and military), Search and Rescue Support Service (S&RSS) for alarm management and for the location of users in distress.
Italy has been playing a primary role since the very start of the program through both ASI (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana / Italian Space Agency) and the involvement of the national industry, especially of the Leonardo Group.
In particular, Telespazio plays an essential role in the programme development, as it has set up, at the Fucino Space Center, one of the Control Centres (Galileo Control Centre, GCC) managing the programme constellation and mission. A second GCC has been set up by DLR GfR, a company of the German space agency DLR, in Oberpfaffenhofen (
Through Spaceopal (an equal joint venture between Telespazio and DLR/GfR), responsible for the operations and integrated logistics of the whole system and for the management of the global communication network Telespazio is significantly present at every stage of the service life of Galileo. Spaceopal, as a matter of fact, guarantees the management and co-ordination of the services through the “LEOP Operations Control Centres” in Toulouse (France) and Darmstadt (Germany), respectively managed by CNES and ESOC, which ensure launch and orbital insertion services for the constellation.
Spaceopal uses the GCCs in Oberpfaffenhofen and Fucino to deliver navigation signals and for the in-orbit control of satellites. Finally, it also operates the IOT system located in Redu (Belgio) to perform the in-orbit test stage for launched satellites.
Telespazio France plays an important role in launch operations through its Toulouse and Kourou teams: the company supports CNES and Arianespace in the management of the Launch Centre in French Guyana and in the launch and orbital insertion operations of Galileo satellites respectively.
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has developed the Galileo System Simulation Facility (GSSF) on behalf of ESA since 1999. The Telespazio subsidiary has also been responsible for the development of the facility supporting the testing and validation stage of the first four Galileo satellites within the IOV stage of the programme. Actually, it is the prime contractor for both the constellation simulator for the Ground Control Segment and for the Assembly, Integration and Validation platform for the Ground Mission Segment.