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EU Space Technology

ESA Launches Four Galileo Satellites (fortune.com) 68

The European Space Agency (ESA) has launched four additional Galileo satellites in to orbit on Thursday -- the first time the ESA has sent up so many satellites at once. The satellites will be used to thrust the EU into the global market for satellite navigation services, which it estimates will be worth 250 billion euros ($267 billion) by 2022, according to Fortune. The program has encountered some turbulence since the EU gave the go ahead with Galileo 16 years ago. In 2014, two Galileo satellites were launched into a wrong, lower orbit. As for today's launch, Slashdot reader nojayuk shares an excerpt from the ESA website: An Ariane 5 rocket has launched four additional Galileo satellites, accelerating deployment of the new satellite navigation system. The Ariane 5, operated by Arianespace, lifted off from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana at 13:06 GMT (14:06 CET, 10:06 local time) carrying Galileo satellites 15-18. The first pair was released 3 hours 35 minutes and 44 seconds after liftoff, while the second separated 20 minutes later. The Galileos are at their target altitude, after a flawless release from the new dispenser designed to handle four satellites. This was the first flight of a heavy-lift ES-variant of the Ariane V since the ATV resupply missions to the ISS. Previously Galileo satellites have been launched in pairs by Soyuz-Fregat craft from French Guiana. Two additional Ariane 5 launches each carrying four Galileo satellites are scheduled in 2017 and 2018. The full system of 24 satellites plus spares is expected to be in place by 2020.
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ESA Launches Four Galileo Satellites

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  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @03:23AM (#53312445)

    which it estimates will be worth 250 billion euros

    It might cost 250 billion euros to build yet another positioning system, but with the Americans and the Russians both making their commercial quality systems available for free, is a third system really worth 250 billion euros? Particularly since we no longer hobble GPS system accuracy. Sure, if money doesn't matter then Europe can say they want toys of their own, but it seems to me that there is no revenue stream here and perhaps someone could have come up with a better use for 250 billion euro than building a third redundant positioning system. I can think of a few things if they just want to save the effort and send the money to me.

    • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @03:36AM (#53312457) Homepage
      Actually, both GPS and GLONASS are not free. If you build equipment which can use GPS or GLONASS, you have to pay a license fee.
      • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

        If you build equipment which can use GPS or GLONASS, you have to pay a license fee.

        Citation please

      • by fche ( 36607 )

        [citation needed]

    • by imidan ( 559239 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @04:06AM (#53312527)
      The European Galileo constellation can be used in conjunction with American GPS and Russian GLONASS to provide more accurate positioning fixes to receivers that are capable of using the multiple systems. Furthermore, different regional powers may benefit more by having satellites in somewhat different orbits than others, owing to the geographic distributions of their areas of influence. In addition, the various nations fielding these systems recognize strategic value in them, in that they can continue to use their system if a hostile government reduces or eliminates availability of their own. Redundancy is not a bad thing, and the nations involved in launching these systems are continuing to improve their functionality.
      • This. I also want to add that Galileo is (to my knowledge) the only satellite system that's not designed with military usage in mind. That is, not as its primary usage.
        They expect quite a lot of commercial contracts for full precision (I don't even know if this one is available to private parties with GPS), but I would be surprised if they were able to get the necessary return on investment, given the multiple setbacks the project went trough. I am all for the project regardless, as a taxpayer. It will im
        • A lot of mobile phones sold today already support both GPS and GLONASS. I expect that at some point the nav chip manufacturers will simply add support for Galileo.
          • Phones support GLONASS because Russia made it a requirement that anything that supports GPS and is sold in Russia must also support GLONASS. It's far cheaper to build a single unit that supports both than to give up on the Russian market entirely or build special GLONASS versions, so any phone that might be sold in Russia supports both. It will be interesting to see if the EU adds a similar requirement for Galileo.

            I'm still quite surprised to see Galileo is going ahead. I remember seeing presentations

            • GLONASS provides better accuracy at higher latitudes, so requiring support for it helps Russian customers as well. It makes sense for Russia to demand this in order to promote adoption. I doubt that this was the deciding factor for the manufacturers though; supporting multiple systems is dirt cheap and would benefit customers in other regions as well, it's a good selling point.

              I suppose Europe still sees a benefit in having our own GPS, rather than having to rely on either the US or the Russian system.
      • by nojayuk ( 567177 )

        Accuracy per se isn't the real advantage of adding Galileo to the existing Navstar and Glonass global positioning satellite networks since better fix data is more dependent on correction overlay services like WAAS in the US and EGNOS in Europe, using fixed ground stations to provide extra accuracy information to GPS receivers allowing, for example, safe automatic landing of aircraft and shipping movements through restricted waters.

        The main benefit of having a lot more GPS satellites in orbit is in places su

      • Whilst it's depressing that this is the typical European cluster-fuck in implementation, (they've been working on it since 2005; first test launch and won't be fully operational until 2020 earliest) it actually may not be the waste of resources it seems.
        Yes, the US, Russia and China (India too, maybe) have established systems, but the way the world and its established alliances is going to shit recently, (will Trump really eviscerate NATO?), its looks like a smart decision.
        Don't forget, pretty much everythi

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      Galileo base consumer functionality is free too.

      Like GPS and GLONASS.

      Fact is, it's not your car satnav that's paying for the satellite constellation - at best it pays a minimal licence on the technology.

      It's military, shipping, search-and-rescue and even emergency-message-relay (read: every airline on the planet) and other commercial uses that pay for it, and those don't have upper limits on their budgets and they are also willing to pay for a superior system.

      And Galileo is quite superior to anything in the

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      All that Ada code is not free.
    • by Zoxed ( 676559 )

      > with the Americans and the Russians both making their commercial quality systems available for free, is a third system really worth 250 billion euros?
      Are you saying that the Americans would be happy to turn off their GPS and trust in using Russian or Euro GPS for military operations ?
      Also Galileo is supposed to provide better coverage at Northern lats.

      > Particularly since we no longer hobble GPS system accuracy
      Put presumably it could be turned off at any time if the US wanted to block access ?
      And es

    • Are you really claiming that a positioning system is supposed to cost about as much as the whole Space Shuttle and ISS projects together?
    • Redundant? Who said redundant? All I see is a complementary system allowing for even greater positioning accuracy.

      I can think of a few things if they just want to save the effort and send the money to me.

      Of course, because your pet project should take priority over a this one, and it is specifically this project that is a waste of money.

      • by jrumney ( 197329 )
        After a point, greater accuracy no longer comes from tracking more satellites, but from more detailed analysis of the signals they are sending. With GPS, Glonass and Baidu already fully operational and various SBAS systems augmenting them, Galileo is really only about the EU saving face, after spending so long talking, and meanwhile the US dropped their random error that made consumer grade GPS unpredictable, and China has joined the party from nowhere, with Japan. and India making the sensible decision to
        • After a point

          After which point? A point well in the future, probably well after the full Galileo constellation is finished.

          You're right. But it's 2016, not 2030.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It might cost 250 billion euros to build yet another positioning system

      What the hell are you talking about? The Galileo global positioning system will have cost an estimated 5 billion EUR upon its completion. The 250 billion EUR is an estimate of how big the business built around the system will be worth.

      As a EU citizen I'm glad we'll finally have our own shit in the sky too. The GPS is a security concern as it's controlled by the US and they could limit access to the system at any time they want.

      I hope Trump breaks up NATO so we can finally deepen our internal military cooper

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        Unfortunately, countries like Spain are actively working against Scotland getting a direct pass into the EU, as they don't want to encourage their own separatist regions.

        As for the stability of the EU, let's wait and see what happens with Le Pen before we start proclaiming a new post-Brexit era of inter-EU cooperation.

        And NATO breaking up/US becoming isolationist (or reversing alliances) would lead to terrible consequences, including a massive spike in global military spending, resumption of production of n

        • by dave420 ( 699308 )

          Spain has repeatedly stated that they have no problem with two countries mutually deciding to split and parts thereof entering into the EU. Spain doesn't want one-sided separations getting traction, as that's the separation type they're worried about.

    • by DarenN ( 411219 )

      Basic misreading of the summary there, old chap (or chapette). The market for Global Positioning services is estimated to be worth 250 billion euro a year by 2020, but this is not the cost of Galileo.

      It was budgeted at 3.4 billion euro which turned out to be, er, optimistic - it looks now like it will be somewhere between 5.5 and 7 billion euro (including the running costs for 20 years in that brings it up to ~20 billion). On the flip side, approximately 7% of EU GDP is dependent on satellite navigation wor

    • In a locally recognisable form :

      Line 1 : Nobody trusted the Americans to not switch their GPS system back to military-only operation at the drop of a military or financial hat.

      Line 2 : The Russians responded by building their own system. Line 3 : GOTO Line 1 ; s/Americans/Russians/ ; s/GPS/GLONASS/ ; GOTO Line 2 ; s/Russians/Chinese/ ; ECHO Line 1 ; ECHO Line 2. Line 4 : GOTO Line 1 ; s/Russians/Chinese ; s/GLONASS/Chinese\ system/ ; GOTO Line 2 ; s/Chinese/Europeans/ ; ECHO Line 1 ; ECHO Line 2.

      You mi

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Well, the european union might think they have a business case. Maybe they're right, maybe they're wrong. But the combination of GPS,Glonass and Galileo (Heh, 3G reference) will give global consumers more options, hopefully will allow for greater precision and will make positioning services less prone to being unavailable due to political issues.

    I think we as consumers win. So way to go :)

  • Does anyone have any information on when we should starting seeing cellphones support Galileo? Most phones I have seen only support GPS and GLONASS. There are other constellations out there, but they aren't really supported.

  • by Alomex ( 148003 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @09:53AM (#53313459) Homepage

    This is a funny use of the term "first" invented by Americans:

    This was the first flight of a heavy-lift ES-variant of the Ariane V since the ATV resupply missions to the ISS.

    The rest of the world would have phrased this as: the previous flight of the Ariane V was the resupply mission to the ISS.

  • The decision to build the system was taken when USA did not make GPS positioning available to others with a sufficient degree of accuracy thus EU for both military and normal use wanted its own system, so withdrawal of USA system would not leave EU 'incompetent'. So much reliance is now made of GPS that many services would break if not available - ambulance, police, heavy transport and civil cars, taxis (I doubt ability of new incomers to know streets without GPS, this raises the occasional 'wrong deliver

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