The launch of the first two operational satellites of the EU's global navigation satellite system will be in October

The Galileo programme is the EU's initiative for a state-of-the-art global satellite navigation system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control. The launch of the first two operational satellites of the EU's global navigation satellite system in October is the first of a series of launches due to take off from Europe's Space Port in Kourou, French Guiana.

Galileo will underpin many sectors of the European economy through its services: electricity grids, fleet management companies, financial transactions, shipping industry, rescue operations, peace-keeping missions, all depend heavily on satellite navigation technology. The decision to fix the date of the first launch on 20 of October 2011 follows a detailed assessment review under the chairmanship of the European Space Agency (ESA). It concluded that the space and ground segment components as well as operational preparedness are progressing according to schedule.

This EU programme will provide three early services in 2014/2015 based on an initial constellation of 18 satellites: an initial Open Service, an initial Public Regulated Service and an initial Search-and-Rescue Service. The Full Operational Capability phase of the Galileo programme is managed and fully funded by the European Union. Galileo is expected to deliver €60 billion to the European economy over a period of 20 years in terms of additional revenues for the industry and in terms of public and social benefits, not counting the benefit of independence and it will make Europe independent in a technology that is becoming critical, including for strategic areas such as electricity distribution and telecommunication networks.

EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) is Europe’s regional augmentation system for GPS signals. It is the precursor to Galileo. The launch of the Galileo satellites at an altitude of 23.600 km will lead to the provision of initial satellite navigation services in 2014. Successive launches will complete the constellation by 2019.