Paris: The in-orbit validation of Galileo has been achieved. Europe now has the operational nucleus of its own satellite navigation constellation in place – the world’s first civil-owned and operated satellite navigation system. In 2011 and 2012 the first four satellites were launched into orbit. Four is the minimum number needed to perform navigation fixes. In the following year, these satellites were combined with a growing global ground infrastructure to allow the project to undergo its crucial In-Orbit Validation phase: IOV. “IOV was required to demonstrate that the future performance that we want to meet when the system is deployed is effectively reachable. It was an intermediate step with a reduced part of the system to effectively give evidence that we are on track,” says Sylvain Loddo, ESA’s Galileo Ground Segment Manager.
On 12 March 2013, Galileo’s space and ground infrastructure came together for the very first time to perform the historic first determination of a ground location, taking place at ESA’s Navigation Laboratory in the ESTEC technical centre, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. From this point, generation of navigation messages enabled full testing of the entire Galileo system. “ESA and our industrial partners had teams deployed in the field continuously for test operations. More than 10 000 km were driven by test vehicles in the process of picking up signals, along with pedestrian and fixed receiver testing. Many terabytes of IOV data were gathered in all,” said Marco Falcone, ESA’s Galileo System Manager.