Galileo, Europe's own Global Satellite Navigation System, constituted a major topic for decision at the ESA ministerial Council in Edinburgh last November. That Council agreed the ESA funding for the Galileo development and in-orbit validation phase subject to the EU Transport Council to approve the Galileo programme.
The EU Council, when meeting on 7 December 2001 could not immediately reach final agreement on the implementation modalities. However, the Heads of State at their summit meeting in Laeken, Belgium, reaffirmed the strategic importance they attach to the Galileo programme and welcomed the decision of the European Space Agency taken in Edinburgh. In addition, they invited the EU Transport Council to take a decision in March 2002. In the meantime, the European Parliament has expressed a favourable opinion on the continuation of the programme.
An interim structure (Galileo Interim Support Structure - GISS) has already been put in place to ensure that the technical development of Galileo is coherent with the user requirements. The GISS consists of some 30 highly qualified international staff and is located in Brussels.
The preparatory development activities have been intensified over the last few months, with the European space industry but also with the application and service industries. Critical technologies, such as atomic clocks and signal generators, are under development and work is progressing as planned. The Galileo ground segment architecture has been further refined with a view to minimise the implementation and operations cost. Moreover, a major activity on the Galileo System Test Bed will start soon. That will allow validating the novel Galileo control methodology (algorithm) in a near-real environment and will establish confidence in the performance claims.