Tuesday 10 September, Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES and Chair of the Administrative Board of GSA, the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency, celebrated the agency’s 15th anniversary in Prague with Europe’s space leaders in attendance. The gathering took the opportunity to hail the growing uptake of EGNOS revolutionizing European air navigation and the planet-wide success of Galileo, which has now reached the milestone of one billion users. EGNOS and Galileo have thus become the standard-bearers for Europe’s space programme and the effective solutions that space is providing for society.
Founded in 2004, GSA is in charge of operating Europe’s satellite navigation systems. Today, EGNOS and Galileo tell us exactly where we are and what time it is. In pursuit of the European Union’s objectives, GSA is tasked with assuring the security and quality of services provided to users and with constantly improving the infrastructure of its satellite-based positioning system. It is also encouraging market players to develop innovative applications and technologies, thus promoting uptake of European systems.
Galileo currently comprises a constellation of 26 satellites orbiting at an altitude of 23,222 kilometres and will ultimately reach 30 satellites by 2020. Galileo has given Europe its own independent satellite-based positioning system able to deliver signals with sub-metric accuracy. It is already providing vital data for a broad range of applications including transport, agriculture and energy.
Fuelled by cooperation between Europe’s space agencies and industry, Galileo utilization is increasing as the constellation has reached the mark of one billion users. CNES was closely involved in the design and development of Galileo and is responsible for positioning the satellites in partnership with the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC). In 2017, CNES engineer Laurent Lestarquit and his team were distinguished with the European Inventor Award for their work on signal processing that has enabled Galileo to attain such unprecedented levels of accuracy.
After today’s celebration, Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: “I want to most warmly thank and congratulate all of the teams at GSA for their outstanding efforts, which are enabling Europe to lead the way in the field of satellite-based positioning. I would also like to extend my thanks and congratulations to the teams at the European Commission, in member states and their agencies, the European Space Agency and manufacturers for conceiving, developing, building and operating these extraordinary systems. Today, EGNOS and Galileo are revolutionizing transport, agriculture, logistics and our daily lives. Aside from the symbolic mark of one billion Galileo users, this global success story reminds us that Europe is strong when it is united and that space is now improving the daily lives of billions of people on our planet.”