Galileo – European Union's satellite navigation system

Galileo is a satellite positioning system that, as basic service, provides users with open positioning and time synchronisation information free of charge. Galileo also offers many special services.

See the video produced by EUSPA from YouTube - Galileo - Link to video

What is Galileo?

Galileo is a global satellite navigation system built by the European Union (EU) and the only such system under civilian control. Other similar global systems, all controlled by national defence administrations, include the US GPS system, Russian GLONASS and Chinese BeiDou.

The EU and its Member States decide on the implementation and operation of the Galileo system. The most critical Galileo services will also remain available to EU Member States in crisis situations, which cannot be fully guaranteed for other satellite navigation systems.

A significant part of Galileo services has been available since 2016. The intention is to declare the basic services fully operational in 2022. In terms of services for the authorities and other specialised services, the Galileo system is expected to be fully operational in 2024. The development of the system will continue even after this.

A large share of the newer terminal devices, such as mobile phones and smart devices for consumers, already include hardware support for Galileo services. On other devices, software updates will be needed in some cases to deploy the services.

Galileo services

Current state of Galileo system

Most of the new GNSS receivers, such as mobile phones and navigators, are already using Galileo alongside other GNSSs to produce location data.

In early 2021, Galileo’s satellite constellation comprises 22 operational satellites and one spare satellite. In addition, the constellation includes two satellites that are in an elliptical orbit due to a launch anomaly and that are used as elements supplementing the operational satellites. The final constellation will consist of at least 24 operational and three spare satellites The satellites orbit the Earth on three orbit levels at the altitude of approximately 23,200 km.

In addition to the Space Segment, Galileo features an extensive Ground Segment, the key components of which are the two Galileo Control Centres (GCC) and the Galileo Security Monitoring Centre (GSMC), the Ground Control Segment (GCS) responsible for spacecraft housekeeping and constellation maintenance, and the Ground Mission Segment (GMS) responsible for the provision of navigation and timing data.

Galileo is built and owned by the European Commission, while the research and development work is led by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the programme is managed by the EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA). Systems and equipment are outsourced from European space industry actors. 

More information: gnss(at)