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satellite navigation system

Source: ESA–J. Huart, 2014

The European GALILEO satellite navigation system today launched its initial services. With immediate effect, GALILEO is transmitting signals that can be received by everyone.


The Federal Minister of Transport, Alexander Dobrindt, said:

GALILEO gives Germany independent access to satellite navigation – and thus more digital sovereignty. The system is a fundamental prerequisite of numerous digital services, for instance navigation by smartphone, new mobility applications or sophisticated search and rescue operations. Key technologies such as automated and connected driving would not be possible at all without satellite navigation.

The initial GALILEO services include:

  • Open service: mobile positioning, for instance using smartphones (available to all users)
  • Search and rescue service: contribution to the international COSPAS SARSAT distress alert system (for instance for the rescue of persons in distress at sea)
  • Public regulated service (PRS): encrypted signal for authorized users such as the police and fire services

GALILEO is the European Union's global satellite navigation system – comparable to the American GPS satellite service. Deployment of the project has been underway since 2007. Eighteen satellites are currently in orbit. The number of satellites is due to rise to around 30 by 2020.


The GALILEO system is controlled by ground control centres, including one at Oberpfaffenhofen in Bavaria. Germany is also the project's largest financial backer. Of the total of more than 7 billion euros that will be invested in the European satellite navigation system between 2014 and 2020, Germany's share will be around 20 percent.