Galileo is the name of the European satellite navigation system which has been under development by the European Union and the European Space Agency (ESA) since 2002. It should be operational from 2013 onwards. Galileo is intended to ensure the fluidity, effectiveness and safety of transport in Europe. Given its many applications, it may also be useful to other sectors of activity.
Galileo will strengthen Europe's scientific identity and develop the Union's independence in the strategic field of satellite positioning. It is thus a genuine alternative to the creation of a de facto monopoly for the American GPS system. Nonetheless, Galileo will be compatible with the GPS system, as well as the Russian radio navigation system Glonass.
Galileo will allow users equipped with a receiver to determine their position with great accuracy in real time. The programme comprises 30 satellites to be placed in orbit from 2006 onwards and ground stations to relay the signals to the users.
Among the other sectors which may benefit from applications of the Galileo programme are: the social services (assistance for the disabled and the elderly), justice and customs (border controls), search and rescue (navigation at sea and in mountainous terrain) and agriculture (precise management of large agricultural areas).