The long awaited European rival to the USA Global Positioning System, Galileo, has taken a step forward to realisation with the delivery of the payload for first satellite.
The payload, which contains the “brains” of the Galileo satellite, includes the atomic clocks that are the basis for all global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) and provide both the positing information and the GPS time signal used by so many GPS NTP time servers for network synchronisation.
Galileo is set to not only rival the current American run GPS system, but for time synchronisation applications it is expected to operate in tandem ensuring even greater accuracy for those seeking a source of UTC time.
Galileo has undergone a lot of uncertainty since the multi-billion Euro project was first designed over a decade ago but the delivery of the first satellite’s payload to Rome, where the equipment is being finalised in preparation for launch early next year, is a real boon to the project which has often fallen into doubt.
Just like GPS, Galileo will be a fully operation navigational satellite system but will offer even greater accuracy that its aging predecessor and provide Europe with their own navigational system that isn’t owned and controlled by the US military.
As well as the positing information that will be used by motorists, pilots and other travellers, Galileo will also provide a secure and accurate source of time for the world’s computer networks and technologies to ensure synchronicity.
Currently, GPS is alone in providing this secure service, although radio transmissions in some countries provide an alternative to the GPS time server signals, although they are not as wide spread as GPS.
The first Galileo satellite is expected to reach orbit in early 2011, with the entire network planned to be operation in 2014 – although if past experiences with the project are anything to go on – you should expect at least a few delays.