Tuesday, 11 April 2017

GPS monopoly being broken

The European Parliamentary Research Service Blog gives an update on the EU's Galileo and Copernicus systems.

Galileo, the long-awaited European global navigation satellite systems, is at a turning point in its history: it reached initial operational capacity in December 2016 and is expected to be fully operational for 2021. This autonomous European civilian tool, which can be used anywhere on earth, transmits positioning and timing data from space for use on the ground to determine a user’s location. Alongside it, the European geostationary navigation overlay system (EGNOS), which improves the accuracy and integrity of the American global positioning system (GPS) over EU territory, became fully operational in 2011.

Delays and cost over-runs can be explained through political, technical, industrial and security issues. It is estimated that by 2020, the EU and ESA will have invested more than €13 billion in these programmes. This public investment, although much larger than that initially planned, matches the cost of similar programmes such as GPS, and is justified by the need for the European Union to have strategic autonomy in the field.

Securing the Copernicus programme
The Copernicus programme is a user-driven programme which provides six free-of-charge operational services (atmosphere monitoring, marine environment monitoring, land monitoring, climate change, emergency management and security) to EU, national, and regional institutions, as well as to the private sector. The programme builds on the initiative on global monitoring for environment and security launched in 2001. It aims at filling the gaps in European earth observation capacities. Data is provided from space infrastructures, particularly the sentinel missions developed under the programme, and in situ infrastructure supported by the Member States. Copernicus services are mainly operated by European Union (EU) agencies.

The Navstar Global Positioning System was developed by the United States Department of Defense. It remains under the control of the US authorities who can selectively "turn off" parts of the system. However, under President Clinton, the US renounced the use of "selective availability".

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