Galileo is the new global navigation satellite system (GNSS) that has been developed over the past two decades. It joins the GPS and GLONASS systems and offers mariners a 3rdreliable positioning source. It is planned to be fully operational in 2020.
The EU funded €10 billion project is named after the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei. One of the aims of Galileo is to provide an independent high-precision positioning system so European nations do not have to rely on the U.S. GPS or the Russian GLONASS systems which could be disabled or degraded by their operators at any time. The use of basic Galileo services will be free and open to everyone. Galileo is intended to provide horizontal and vertical position measurements within 1m precision and better positioning services at higher latitudes than other positioning systems. Galileo will also provide a new global search and rescue (SAR) function as part of the MEOSAR system enabling an acknowledgement signal for EPIRBs of a distress signal received.
There are currently 22 satellites in usable condition (operational and contributing to the service provision), 2 satellites are in "testing" and 2 more are marked as not available. The final constellation should be deployed by 2020 and will consist of 30 satellites (24 operational and 6 spares).