The network of Galileo navigation satellites, the European substitute to the American GPS system, will on Friday a key step in its development with the launch of two new devices that will confirm the program for the first time, as reported by the European Space Agency (ESA).
Until now in orbit two experimental satellites which were launched in October 2011, called Giove-A and Giove-B, but were needed at least two more for the network was able to independently determine the location of an object Earth. It is a matter of geometry. For users, however, will not be available until 2015.
The launch assembly and IOV4 IOV3, technical name of the two new satellites, has made aboard a Soyuz rocket at 20.15 Spanish time rose smoothly from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. After 10 minutes, the satellite separated from the rocket and headed to their orbital positions. And fifteen minutes came the first signals from space that confirmed that the launch had developed normally.
This constellation of satellites, which hopes to reach 27 units in 2018, plus three reserve for trouble, "will provide better services, from a vehicle navigation more accurate, efficient management of road transport or transactions banking safer, "says communications director of the ESA in Spain, Javier Ventura-Traveset. As popular impact improvement, Galileo makers say that cars fitted may know their status "with a precision of centimeters", facing the margin of error of several meters of the GPS system, which opens the way to, for example, that aparquen driverless cars with the help satellite.
"With four satellites in orbit can determine the position of a user using only the Galileo system," says Jaume Sanz, a researcher at the Group of Astronomy and Geomatics (Gage) of the UPC. With the four satellites may fix the latitude, longitude and altitude of the user as well as the time reference, "but still cannot ensure coverage (being the four visible) for 24 hours and in the whole," adds Sanz, for which it will be necessary to expand the constellation until a total of 27 operational satellites. The UPC group, working with the ESA since 2001, has developed algorithms to improve the accuracy of satellite positioning.
Not until 2015, when it has 18 satellites in space, when the system is completely independent and does not need the support of GPS to function. Then, Galileo will offer three services: the Open Service (free), the Public Regulated Service (PRS) and search and rescue service.
Here, Ventura explains Traveset IOV4 IOV3 and will be the first satellite to carry the search and rescue transponder that also is designed and manufactured entirely in Spain. Until now, GPS enabled, for example, that a boat launch a distress message which came to the emergency services. "Thanks to the system that was created for Galileo continues ESA spokesman in Spain, who has commanded the ship will also receive a signal back in which will warn you that your message has been received and that the rescue going to their aid. "