Galileo goes live. It took 17 years and cost around 10 billion euros, Europe’s answer to GPS has gone into operation with the launch of four more satellites from French Guyana.
It aims to produce the most accurate satellite navigation system in the world, with real-time positioning down to one metre or less, compared to the ten metre range of its American rival.
Euronews’ space expert Jeremy Wilks:
“Many will be saying that this is a case of better late than never for the Galileo satellite navigation system. When the contract was first signed it was due to completion in 2008, here we are at the end of 2016 and the services have finally begun. Something to underline with Galileo though is that its competitors, GPS and Glonass, the American and Russian versions are actually run by the military. Galileo is not only more accurate it’s also run by the European Commission which means that it’s civil and in that sense it has great strategic importance for Europe”.
The first services, free to users are limited to smartphones and car navigation units already fitted with Galileo-compatible microchips. But once it is fully operational with all 30 satellites in 2020, it will help in search and rescue operations, enable more accurate time synchronisation for banking and financial transactions, allow governments an encrypted service in times of national emergencies such as terrorist attacks and bring lucrative returns to European businesses ready to exploit its precision.