Representatives from Europe, Russia and the United States pledged increased co-operation as global satellite navigations system continue to improve and expand, offering an ever-increasing range of interoperable services and opportunities to citizens around the world.
Speaking at the 2011 Satellite Navigation Summit in Munich, Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director-General of the European Space Agency, delivered a rousing endorsement of Europe's flagship satellite navigation programmes, EGNOS and Galileo. "I am convinced," he said, "that Europe will be a strong partner in a worldwide multi-constellation system. Indeed, Europe has the capacity to deliver the world's best GNSS system, as evidenced by our launch of the new EGNOS safety-of-life service for aviation. EGNOS has already been a great success and it is clearly an important step on the way towards Galileo."
Dordain also stressed the importance of working closely with international partners."Work on satellite navigation systems – GPS, Glonass, in China, in India, and all around the world – continues to move forward. We must all work together now, not just in Europe, and we must also work to forge closer links with our users."
GPS still a central pillar
Representing the United States, Anthony Russo, Director of the National Space-Based PNT Coordination Office, said the American government has reaffirmed its pledge to provide free GPS to users around the world, and it will continue to work with its partners to ensure the interoperability of all satellite navigation systems.
"We recognise that the more systems we can fuse together, the more we can improve performance," Russo said, "but we also need to co-operate to face the disturbing trend we see in terms of jamming technologies and the easy availability of jamming devices now on the market."
Russo also addressed the impact of the economic downturn. "Recently announced budget cuts will mean setbacks for many government programmes, but, all in all, in our country, the GPS programme has come off better than we might have expected. Indeed, Mr Obama, in a recent speech on his new budget, specifically cited GPS as an example where government money is well-spent, to the benefit of citizens and the economy."
Also joining the panel was Anatoly Shilov, Deputy Head of the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos. He said his government now considers Glonass to be one of its most important national programmes. "GNSS touches every aspect of our lives," he said, "including transport, research and energy."
Glonass' current level of performance is good, said Shilov, delivering accuracy to within a few metres and with its reliability continuing to improve. "We now consider interoperability to be a priority," he affirmed. "The Russian government supports international co-operation, with a view to creating a truly interoperable world satellite navigation system, with fully compatible parts. We want it to be possible for any user to access any of the worldwide GNSS systems, without the need for different receivers."
Deep impact for Europe
Paul Weissenberg, Deputy Director for Space, Security, GMES, and the European Satellite Navigation Programmes at the European Commission, stressed the importance of taking a wider view. "Satellite navigation, Galileo in particular, is part of a larger EU space policy, and, as such, of a larger European identity. We are no longer reasoning in terms of national or regional interests. As in the US, in Russia, in China, where space programmes are part of a political identity, Galileo and EGNOS are now part of our European identity."