Europe's Galileo GPS Satellites Down, Europe Relying on American Satellites

The project which is going over its €3 billion budget is experiencing a mysterious outage related to groundwork infrastructure.
Chris Young

Europe's satellite navigation system, Galileo, has been suffering a major outage since Friday.

Galileo, a network of 24 satellites launched into space in order to give Europe a network of civilian-controlled satellites is in its pilot phase, meaning it is not yet expected to work at its final expected capacity.

However, the outage is an embarrassing hitch for the European Space Agency and European Commission project that is going three times above its €3 billion projected budget.


Sat-Navigation outage

The Galileo satellite network outage, as BBC reports, means that smartphone and device users in Europe will not be picking up usable timing or positional information from the ESA's network.

Instead, these devices will be depending on data coming from the American Global Positioning System (GPS). Some phones might also be relying on connections with the Russian (Glonass) and Chinese (Beidou) networks — depending on the sat-nav chip they have installed. 

The European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA) released a statement on Thursday warning users that Galileo's signals had been affected and that "experts are working to restore the situation as soon as possible."

GSA updated their initial statement on Friday at 01:50 Central European Time to say that the service was out of use.

Groundwork infrastructure

Inside GNSS, an online publication dedicated to sat-nav and satellite news reported that its sources were saying the problem originated in a malfunction at a Precise Timing Facility (PTF) in Italy.

PTF's keep a perfect GST time which is beamed up to the Galileo system — issues in timing calibration will affect the whole system they say.

As the BBC reports, one important function for the Galileo satellites, the system that picks up distress beacon messages for search and rescue, has thankfully remained unaffected.

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