Galileo constellation grows with successful satellite launch

This page has been archived and is provided for historical reference purposes only.
The content and links are no longer maintained and may now be outdated.

21 November 2016
The 17 November 2016 launch was the first time the European Ariane-5 launcher was used for the Galileo programme. ©ESA


Following the successful launch of four Galileo satellites, the Galileo constellation now has 18 satellites in orbit as it moves towards the declaration of Initial Services.The launch was the first time the European Ariane-5 launcher was used for the Galileo programme. “The Galileo launch was a great success,” says European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowska. “With more satellites in orbit, Galileo will soon be able to offer Initial Services for its users.”

The declaration of Initial Services is expected soon and, with it, Galileo will officially go from being a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) system in testing to a live, operational service. For the first time ever, European satellites will provide users with global positioning, navigation and timing information.

“As we transition from a deployment phase to an exploitation phase, the GSA will take a prominent role in overseeing the service provision and monitoring the security of the overall system,” says GSA Executive Director Carlo des Dorides. “The GSA is ready to make Galileo work for Europe.”  

While the four new satellites are not a prerequisite for declaring Initial Services, and will not be used for Galileo services until in-orbit commissioning is complete, each additional satellite reinforces the constellation and improves the availability and performance of the system.

Until the full satellite constellation and ground infrastructure are in place, which is expected to happen in 2020, Galileo will be used in combination with GPS – a combination that provides users with an enhanced level of service.  

Ready to make its mark

The declaration of Galileo Initial Services is the first step towards reaching full operational capability. The first services offered by Galileo include the Open Service, Public Regulated Service (PRS), and Search and Rescue Service (SAR). With Initial Services, all mass-market devices containing a Galileo-enabled chipset, such as smartphones and vehicle navigation devices, can use Galileo signals for positioning, navigation and timing.

Watch This: GSA ready for Initial Services

Many Galileo compatible products can already be found in stores. In fact, almost 60% of all available receivers, chipsets and modules support a minimum of two GNSS constellation. Of these, nearly 40% are Galileo compatible – a figure that is increasing every day. Furthermore, by 2018, Galileo will be found in every new model of vehicle sold in Europe, enabling the eCall emergency response system.

European citizens stand to benefit greatly from Galileo Initial Services. For example, the Search and Rescue service reduces the time it takes to detect a person lost at sea or in the mountains from three hours to just 10 minutes after a distress beacon is activated. Users will also benefit from the increased availability of satellite signals that Galileo provides.


Media note: This feature can be republished without charge provided the European GNSS Agency (GSA) is acknowledged as the source at the top or the bottom of the story. You must request permission before you use any of the photographs on the site. If you republish, we would be grateful if you could link back to the GSA website (

Updated: Nov 21, 2016



We do it for you. Every Friday in your inbox.

Subscribe now!