Learn About The Galileo Satellite Transmission System

Satellite transmission is now a fact of life in telephony, television, computer networks, aviation, shipping and many other areas. The range of applications open to the Galileo system is extremely varied and the number of potential spin-offs immense. Galileo applications are projected to spread into many areas of all our lives from safe and efficient transport in every domain (aviation, maritime, road, rail and even pedestrian) to crisis and emergency management, as well as applications in various commercial sectors (precision farming, security of online financial transactions, optimal transfer of electricity along power lines, tourism, etc.).

The fully deployed Galileo system consists of 30 satellites (27 operational + 3 active spares), positioned in three circular Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) planes at 23,222 km altitude above the Earth, and at an inclination of the orbital planes of 56 degrees with reference to the equatorial plane. Once this is achieved, the Galileo navigation signals will provide good coverage even at latitudes up to 75 degrees north, which corresponds to the North Cape, and beyond. The large number of satellites together with the optimization of the constellation, and the availability of the three active spare satellites, will ensure that even a major event like the loss of one satellite has no discernible effect on the user.

Two Galileo Control Centers (GCC) will be implemented to provide for the control of the satellites and to perform the navigation mission management. The data provided by a global network of twenty Galileo Sensor Stations (GSS) will be sent to the Galileo Control Centers through a redundant communications network. The GCC's will use the data of the Sensor Stations to compute the integrity information and to synchronize the time signal of all satellites and of the ground station clocks. The exchange of the data between the Control Centers and the satellites will be performed through so-called up-link stations. Five S-band up-link stations and 10 C-band up-link stations will be installed around the globe for this purpose.

As a further feature, Galileo will provide a global Search and Rescue (SAR) function, based on the operational Cospas-Sarsat system. To do so, each satellite will be equipped with a transponder, which is able to transfer the distress signals from the user transmitters to the Rescue Co-ordination Centre, which will then initiate the rescue operation. At the same time, the system will provide a signal to the user, informing him that his situation has been detected and that help is under way. This latter feature is new and is considered a major upgrade compared to the existing system, which does not provide a feedback to the user.

The initial operational capability for Galileo is projected from early next decade.

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