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Four more European Galileo satellites in space

Four more European Galileo satellites in space
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Christian Boas

The European navigation system Galileo is taking on more and more importance. Last week, four more satellites for the European Galileo project on board an Ariane 5 rocket launched from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. With “Tara”, “Samuel”, “Anna” and “Ellen”, each weighing about 715 kilograms like their predecessors, the Galileo “family” grows to 26 members.

“All satellites orbit the earth at a height of 23,222 kilometers. The constellation is thus almost complete and can now guarantee almost global coverage with Galileo signals, “reports René Kleeßen, Galileo program manager for space management at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Bonn.

Galileo Satelliten Konstellation. (Bild: DLR)

Billion-dollar project
With the multi-billion euro prestige program, Europe wants to become independent of the American “Global Positioning System”, GPS for short. The European Galileo system should enable much more accurate navigation than GPS. In addition, the Galileo navigation system can not be simply limited or turned off by the USA in the accuracy, as has been the case several times in GPS. The first Galileo services should be available in just over one and a half years. Among other things, the system will be used for navigation on the road or on the water, for rescue and for agriculture.
Galileo-Satelliten-Quartett auf der Ariane 5 platziert. (Bild: DLR)
Use on the smartphone
According to the Galileo operators, various smartphone manufacturers have now equipped their models with GPS as well as Galileo receivers. Which improves the accuracy for users, such as map or navigation apps, because they can receive the signals of both Galileo and GPS services.

30 satellites
Of the now 26 satellites in space are according to operator information currently 14 functional. Four more will soon be put into operation when they have completed a test phase. The four newly launched spacecraft are expected to deliver usable data from February 2019. Then Galileo would be functional with 22 satellites. However, worldwide coverage requires at least 24 active satellites in space. By 2020, more Galileo satellites will be brought into space, because in the end, 30 satellites will orbit the earth at the end – so that Galileo also works in case of failures or failures.

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