Two years ago, Cyceon wondered whether Europe was building future leadership in space after it successfully landed a module – Rosetta Mission’s Philae – on a comet in November 2014, a world’s first. Significant advances had been made too about the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) built by Thales Alenia Space Italy and deployment plans were concretizing about Europe’s global navigation system Galileo.
After a 17-year-long effort and one failed launch of two FOC (Full Operational Capacity) satellites in August 2014 that raised questionable doubts over the continuation of the program, Galileo – a constellation of 30 satellites worth 7 billion euros – has officially begun operating on December 15, 2016 in “initial services” mode till full operational capability by 2020.
With increased accuracy calculated in centimeters instead of meters, Galileo will be a major competitor for the American GPS, the Russian GLONASS and the Chinese BEIDOU. “Still, much work remains to be done. The entire constellation needs to be deployed, the ground infrastructure needs to be completed and the overall system needs to be tested and verified,” said Paul Verhoef, European Space Agency (ESA)’s Director of the Galileo Program.