For nearly three decades GPS has been the primary navigation method for ships. Other systems have been attempted but either failed to launch or, like the Russian system GLONASS, failed to provide accurate and reliable positioning information to end users. But today other positioning systems are starting to come online starting with China’s Beidou system last December. As if a rerun from the cold war space race, the European version of GPS, called ‘Galileo’, is hot on China’s trail.
This week the European union announced a significant milestone in its development, with the world’s first successful reception of an encrypted Public Regulated Service (PRS) signal from a Galileo satellite.
The defense and technology companies Septentrio and QinetiQ, working in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA), received the signal using a Galileo PRS Test User Receiver (PRS-TUR) developed under an ESA contract. For the reception test, the receiver was installed in the Galileo Control Centre at Telespazio facilities in Fucino, Italy and operated by technical experts from ESA.
This new development builds on previous advancements in the project, from the first laboratory demonstration of the PRS signal acquisition and tracking in 2006 through to the first successful Galileo end-to-end system test, including the Galileo Ground Mission Segment (GMS) and its key management facilities, satellite and PRS-TUR, in 2011.
“This is the most important milestone for Septentrio since the reception of the world’s first Galileo signal from space on January 12, 2006 with a Septentrio receiver,” said Peter Grognard, founder and CEO of Septentrio Satellite Navigation.
“We are honoured and grateful for the excellent collaboration with ESA. Septentrio is marking another industry-first on the Galileo programme, and will continue playing a key role in this exciting and ambitious European project.”
“Today, together with our partners, we take a decisive step in the early availability of commercial PRS receivers to foster user acceptance and market success of this Galileo service.”