The European Union (EU) recently approved an austerity budget that preserved full funding for only a handful of programs. One such program is Galileo, Europe's plan to create its own Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). Although the effort which is meant to reduce reliance on the American Global Positioning System (GPS) is years behind schedule, significantly over budget, and is asking for money at a time when Europe is in the midst of a financial crisis, European leaders allocated 6.3 billion Euros to have a fully operational system in place by 2019. For more about events leading up to the February 8, 2013, vote to fund, see below:
(New York Times, February 6, 2013)
Comment: Why should you care about this development? Two thoughts:
- GPS has been around for long enough that many in the United States take the system for granted. Given the dire financial circumstances that Europe is in, committing 6.3 billion Euros to any project, let alone one that largely duplicates a system that already exists, is a commentary about the importance of that capability. A point reinforced by the fact that Russia, China, India and Japan are also working to have their own GNSS or regional systems.
- For the response community, the completed Galileo system will offer an important new Search And Rescue (SAR) feature. Units operating on the system will be able to transmit a distress signal, and then receive indication the signal has been received and help is on the way.
Lead graphic credit: European Space Agency