First tests of Galileo’s Public Regulated Service have proven the satellite system is capable of autonomous positioning accuracy below 10m when in the correct geometrical configuration.
Some European countries have recently commenced independent testing of the high-accuracy positioning and timing services provided via the Galileo satellites.
Despite only four out of the 30 planned satellites are already in place, orbiting the Earth at the 23,222km altitude, the spacecraft already transmit information on two frequency bands with enhanced protection with access only to strictly authorised users.
“Galileo is in its In-Orbit Validation phase, planned to include experimental demonstrations of Public Regulated Service (PRS) capabilities in terms of positioning and access control,” said Miguel Manteiga Bautista, head of the Galileo Security Office at the European Space Agency (ESA).
The PRS, designed to serve governmental users including emergency services, defence, critical transportation and energy and telecommunication purposes, was originally planned to start when Galileo enters its full operational capability phase. However, in response to a strong demand of EU member states, the service has been enabled earlier this summer.
“Belgium, France, Italy and the UK have now performed independent PRS acquisition and positioning tests,” Manteiga said. “In parallel, ESA, through collaboration with Dutch and Italian authorities, is also conducting PRS fixed and mobile validation in several locations in the Netherlands and Italy.”
Among the services the Galileo constellation is expected to offer, PRS is the only one not available to general public. It relies on robust signals that are being encrypted and resistant to jamming.
The ground-infrastructure to receive PRS signal is currently limited. Some countries have therefore decided to develop their own PRS receivers. Italy has already managed to test and verify the technology based on ESA’s specifications.
“The project is still on-going in order to test more advanced functionalities this coming autumn and to run the first aeronautical PRS tests in collaboration with the Dutch authorities,” Manteiga said. “Other Member States have also expressed their willingness to join the IOV PRS experimentation campaigns soon.”
The next Galileo satellites should be launched atop a Soyuz rocket from the European Spaceport in Kourou at the beginning of 2014. The system, that has experienced severe delays, should be fully operational by the end of the decade.