Security is an important feature of the Galileo programme. On 16 November officials and the press visited the site of the Galileo Security Monitoring Centre (GSMC) in Saint Germain en Laye to the west of Paris where construction is now underway. The visit was organised by the French Space Agency (CNES) who is hosting this essential infrastructure for Galileo.
The Galileo Security Monitoring Centre (GSMC) is being built within a French military complex, the Camp des Loges, at a few kilometres from Saint Germain en Laye. Although construction of the GSMC is already underway, the ceremony on 16 November marked the official ‘ground-breaking’.
Carlo des Dorides, Executive Director of the European GNSS Agency (GSA), the European Union Agency responsible for operating the GSMC, attended this symbolic event.
"This marks a key step in the development of the Galileo programme," said des Dorides. "The excellent collaboration with France on the GSMC is a positive step for Galileo as well as for Europe."
The GSMC will be in charge of several major tasks when completed, including: overall management of the Galileo system security, management of access to the Galileo Public Regulated Service (PRS), command and control of European GNSS in accordance with the Joint Action instructions that could be implemented in times of crisis, and provision of PRS and GNSS security expertise and analysis. The centre will ensure the reliability of the Galileo system that is crucial for its success.
In particular, the PRS service is an encrypted navigation service that adds further security and robustness to satellite services for authorised users. This protected signal will be of great use for European safety and emergency services as well as other authorities in areas such as law enforcement.
Symbol of collaboration
Yannick d'Escatha, President of CNES, said: "The progression of the GSMC project is very positive. It is one of the key steps for the success of Galileo and another proof of the interest of France for the security of this major European programme. Together, the European Union and its Member States are benefiting from this fruitful collaboration. The installation of the GSMC in Saint Germain en Laye is a strong symbol of this collaboration."
Also attending the event were representatives of the French military, European space agencies, and local and national government officials. These included Michel Jau (Leader of the Yvelines region in France), Emmanuel Lamy (Mayor of Saint Germain en Laye), Didier Faivre (Director of the European Space Agency (ESA)) and Olivier Crop (Manager of the GSMC).
The officials and representatives of the press visited the building under construction. At the core of the GSMC is the operations room, where GSA personnel will monitor and control the system 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This ‘heart of Galileo’ is built with state of the art security technologies available today.
Following the recent launch of two Galileo satellites on 12 October, the establishment of GSMC is another milestone for the future European global navigation system. The GSMC building phase, organised by CNES in collaboration with the French Ministry of Defence, is scheduled to be completed in mid-2013 and the building will be handed over to GSA by September 2013.
There will then be a period for the technical fit out, deployment and testing of the IT systems. The system must be fully tested, quality and security assured and certified before any public services are launched.
However, by the end of 2014 GSMC should be in a position to launch Galileo’s early services in conjunction with the partial constellation of 14 Galileo satellites that will be in position by then. The centre plans to be fully operational by 2015 and will be run by a staff of approximately 30 professionals from across Europe.
In addition to the main facility in France, a second back-up GSMC site will be hosted by the United Kingdom and located in Swanwick near Southampton in the south of the UK.
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