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Author Topic:   Lost in Space: GALILEO
jimh posted 11-06-2014 01:37 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
Recent news about the European-based GALILEO project to create a global navigation satellite system has not been good. An article at

Galileo: A Constellation of One?

gives some details about the status of the project and its six orbiting satellites. The three-year-old satellites E11 and E12 have problems with their onboard clocks. The two-year-old E20 satellite has had power problems and is now operating on only one frequency and at reduced power. The two just-launched satellites ended up in the wrong orbit due to rocket motor problems and may never be fully utilized. That leaves only the two-year-old E19 satellite in orbit and working at full capacity; hence the title, "A Constellation of One." These events have brought into question the goal of achieving full operational capability of GALILEO by 2020.

The USA's Air Force NAVSTAR GPS system, in contrast, seems to be working better than expected, with satellites experiencing longer service life than anticipated by as much as double, and with four new satellites with new capabilities launched this year with great success. I think sometimes one forgets just how complicated and demanding the technology of these systems truly can be, and we often fail to appreciate the enormous competence and abilities of organizations like the United States Air Force to accomplish a difficult and demanding technical mission.

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