Steps so far
The first orbital elements of Europe’s global satellite navigation system are in place. On 21 October 2011 a Soyuz rocket from French Guiana launched two satellites, with two more following on 12 October 2012: these first four Galileo satellites currently in orbit represent the operational nucleus of the full 30-satellite constellation.
This first four are known as the In-Orbit Validation (IOV) satellites.
Fully representative of the others that will follow them into orbit, these first four IOV satellites have served to prove that the satellites and ground segment meet many of Galileo’s requirements and validate the system’s design in advance of completing and launching the rest of the constellation.
On 12 March 2013, Galileo’s space and ground infrastructure came together for the very first time to perform the historic first determination of a ground location, taking place at ESA’s Navigation Laboratory in the ESTEC technical centre, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.
From this point, generation of navigation messages enabled full testing of the entire Galileo system. A wide variety of tests followed, carried out all across Europe.
ESA and its industrial partners had teams deployed in the field for test operations. More than 10 000 km were driven by test vehicles in the process of picking up signals, along with pedestrian and fixed receiver testing. Many terabytes of IOV data were gathered in all.
From this point, on-going generation of the Galileo navigation messages enabled full validation of the entire Galileo system. A wide variety of tests followed, carried out in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK, culminating in the successful completion of this crucial phase in October 2013.
The build-up of the Galileo system can now proceed to placing the remaining satellites into orbit and deploying further ground stations.
Last update: 18 July 2014