Europe’s Galileo Sat-Nav Network Suffers Crippling Outage

A technical incident has crippled Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation network.
A mockup of a Galileo satellite hanging from the roof of the Galileo Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany | Image credit: GSA

Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation network has suffered a prolonged outage due to “a technical incident related to its ground infrastructure.” source The technical incident has crippled almost the entire network, with the exception of the Galileo Search and Rescue (SAR) service.

Problems with the multi-billion-euro Galileo network began on July 11 with the European Global Navigation Satellites Systems Agency (GSA) issuing a notice that signals might become unreliable. In the early hours of Friday, the notice was updated revealing that the service was down until further notice.

Earlier today, GSA officials revealed the problem is likely associated with the Precise Timing Facility in Fucino, Italy. source The facility averages time from several atomic clocks. This data is then uploaded to orbiting satellites and used to provide an accurate time reference, enabling user localisation.

Despite the crippling outage, GSA officials noted that the network is “not in full operation yet” adding that this, “is something that can happen while we build robustness into the system.” source

The Galileo network is Europe’s answer to the US GPS system, the Russian GLONASS system, and the Chinese BeiDou network. The first operational satellite was launched in 2011 with an additional 25 satellites launched since. Currently, only a small number of consumer mobile phones are equipped to pick up the network’s signal with the US GPS system used to augment and spot problems with the new network.

The initial 30-satellite Galileo constellation is expected to be completed by 2020.

Andrew Parsonson is a space enthusiast and the founder of Rocket Rundown. He has worked as a journalist and blogger for various industries for over 5 years and has a passion for both fictional and real-life space travel. Currently, Andrew is the primary writer for Rocket Rundown as we look to expand our reach and credibility.