These first Galileo IOV satellites are fully representative of the others that will follow them into orbit.
Fourteen more will combine with these four to provide the ‘Initial Operational Capability’ by mid-decade, which will then lead into the next phase, the final 30-satellite ‘Full Operational Capability’.
The next 14 Galileo FOC satellites are currently taking shape: their payloads are being constructed by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd in Guildford, UK, while the platforms and overall integration are the responsibility of OHB in Bremen, Germany.
By mid-decade the 18 Galileo satellites then in orbit will provide initial services to users. The complete 30-strong constellation enabling the full range of Galileo services is scheduled for the decade's end.
EGNOS and Galileo are here to stay. ESA’s satnav evolution programme is looking into how the two systems will evolve over time.
Research is under way into future improvements such as expanded augmentation coverage, including how best to support increased navigation in the Arctic region as ice cover recedes, even more precise atomic clocks, and inter-satellite links to reduce Galileo’s dependence on its ground segment for clock correction.
Improved ionospheric modelling is another innovation that would increase Galileo and EGNOS accuracy while also being of scientific interest.
Navigation satellite ‘reflectometry’ is another field of research: intercepting reflected satnav signals with special receivers to gather scientific and environmental information on Earth’s sea and land, including sea-surface height and roughness, wind fields, ice extent, soil moisture and biomass density.
Last update: 14 January 2013