Galileo, the global navigation system under development by the European Union (EU) and the European Space Agency (ESA), is expected to launch two operational satellites in October of this year. Galileo will launch its first two satellites from French Guiana on October 20. Six months after the initial launch, two more satellites will be put into space followed by an additional fourteen satellites at staggered intervals. The European navigational system is expected to be available for use in 2014 with an estimated completion date of 2019.
Galileo will provide independence for European countries that currently rely on either the United States (GPS) or Russia (GLONASS). Upon completion, Galileo will have thirty satellites serving Europe; twenty-seven satellites will be operational with three satellites serving as reserves. Additionally, two ground facilities, one based near Munich, Germany and one near Fucino, Italy, will operate alongside the satellites in orbit.
The European Commission described Galileo as fulfilling the need for a European created and maintained navigational system. "Galileo will underpin many sectors of the European economy through its services: electricity grids, fleet management companies, financial transactions, shipping industry, rescue operations, peacekeeping missions, all depend heavily on satellite navigation technology. In addition, Galileo will make Europe independent in a technology that is becoming critical, including for strategic areas such as electricity distribution and telecommunication networks," the European Commission explained in a statement.