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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 11 October 2012

Count-down to the second launch of Galileo satellites

The countdown has started for the launch of Galileo's third and fourth satellites —scheduled for tomorrow at 18:15 UTC from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. This second pair of EADS Astrium satellites will be put into orbit on-board a Soyuz rocket operated by Arianespace. The resulting initial constellation of four satellites will allow the validation and fine-tuning of the system before a new series of 22 satellites will be launched from 2013.

Galileo will allow users of dependant application to identify their exact position in time and space, just like the American GPS, but with even greater precision and reliability. Under European civilian control, Galileo will be compatible, and — for some of its services —interoperable with GPS, but entirely independent from it. In 2012, testing of Galileo satellites, in combination with GPS satellites, showed significant improvement of performance.

The launch will be closely monitored by the European Commission, as they bear overall responsibility for the Galileo Programme, which is on track to provide initial services in 2014.

Antonio Tajani, European Commission Vice-President, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship said: "The Galileo Programme is delivering on its promises. Europe is at the forefront of space technologies. Galileo provides a real opportunity for businesses producing satellite-based products and applications. European industry should be ready to seize a vast market which is there for the taking. Such space investments are urgently needed in the current economic situation".

More information on Galileo:

See also MEMO/11/717   - Galileo will boost economy and make citizens' lives easier

Outstanding quality of Galileo signals

Analysis of Galileo signals underlines the system's capacity to deliver a very high level of service. Researchers of the French Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) have analysed positioning information from the Galileo satellites already in orbit; in May 2012 tests were carried out using the two operational Galileo satellites launched last year as well as the two experimental Giove A and B satellites. Tests conducted in combination with GPS satellites also showed significantly higher positioning accuracy, thanks to Galileo.

Boost for markets for satellite navigation technologies

Europe's investment in satellite navigation technology will open the global market for European industry. This market is currently valued at €124 billion and expected to increase to €250 billion by 2020. Galileo will provide business opportunities for a wide variety of applications in many sectors of the European economy, including electricity grids, fleet management companies, financial transactions, shipping industry, rescue operations and peace-keeping missions. The overall economic impact is estimated to be around 90 billion euro over the next 20 years (source GSA studies Market Monitoring and Forecasting).


Galileo is the European Commission's programme to develop a global satellite navigation system under European civilian control. It will be compatible, and, for some of its services, interoperable with the American GPS and Glonass (Russia), but will remain independent from them.

Contacts :

Carlo Corazza (+32 2 295 17 52)

Sara Tironi (+32 2 299 04 03)

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