Following the challenges of 2020, this year will be a key year for the EU Space Programme, European GNSS Agency (GSA) Executive Director Rodrigo da Costa said at a panel discussion at the Munich Satellite Navigation Conference, which was held online on March 16-17. The GSA executive director went on to outline some of the upcoming events to look forward to in the year ahead.
The decision to expand the GSA into the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) was motivated, among others, by a desire to support Europe’s investment in space, da Costa told the Munich conference participants, adding that this was yet another confirmation that space is an economic enabler with a positive spill-over effect in many sectors of the economy.
“With EUSPA, new horizons are opening up and the generation of synergies between the different components of the space programme is very much in focus,” he said. Da Costa added that, by combining navigation and Earth observation it would be possible to create value-adding solutions, for example, that mitigate the risk of disasters like oil spills, illegal fishing, or support new precision agriculture practices.
Galileo and EGNOS update
Guerric Pont, Acting Head of Galileo Services Department shared some achievements in the system’s infrastructure, regulatory framework, services and the major milestones in the development of Galileo 2nd generation. The data on positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) show the remarkable performance of Galileo, and its unique search and rescue (SAR) feature – the return link – which regularly and reliably contributes to the rescue missions all across the globe.
“With new services in development: Emergency Warning Service, High Accuracy and Authentication Service (HAAS) and the contribution to the Safety of Life (SoL), Galileo keeps delivering added value to European citizens, business communities and governmental bodies, and its potential for synergies with other EU Space Programme components makes the future of European space bright,” said Pont.
Vincent Brison, GNSS Operations and Maintenance Manager from the EGNOS Programme highlighted some of the novelties we can expect from EGNOS in the near future, such as the EGNOS internal waterways and maritime service. In the rail sector also, EGNOS is currently being included in the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) and an EGNSS service for train localisation is under study. “The extension of EGNOS coverage to North Africa and Ukraine is currently planned and the possibility of an extension to Iceland, the Middle East and Africa is being assessed,” he said.
EUSpace: A flourishing market
With respect to precision agriculture, a session on EU Space for Agriculture highlighted that the creation of EUSPA put space data and services at the heart of a technological and digital revolution in agriculture, helping Europe to accelerate its transition to a sustainable food system, mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, and reverse its loss of biodiversity.
A session on the GNSS industry’s response to the current pandemic highlighted how a number of GNSS-based solutions had helped to resolve issues caused by lockdowns, interruption of supply chains and operations, and the re-introduction of border controls. Among these, the Galileo Green Lane application made a significant contribution to keeping intra-continental road traffic flowing, without queues and delays. Another session dedicated to critical trends for future navigation and timing systems presented technology trends in PNT user equipment, highlighting the key role of four criteria: accuracy, ubiquity, security and connectivity.
With respect to the Galileo Public Regulated Service (PRS), it was noted that the GSA is actively contributing to the development of all areas of the PRS user segment, to continuously meet user needs, and is supporting PRS joint test activities with Member States. The Agency is also planning to launch a consultation on a PRS technology and service roadmap to support the development of the PRS user segment and market uptake to 2027 in the field of user equipment and dedicated infrastructure.
In her address at the conference, GSA Head of Market Development Fiammetta Diani outlined some of the new challenges ahead for the Galileo programme, including completing uptake in longer-term market segments, leveraging the programme’s differentiators to position Galileo as a market leader and supporting the EU downstream industry, with a focus on competitiveness and innovation of SMEs and start-ups.
Executive Director da Costa stressed that, just like its predecessor, EUSPA would continue to link space to user needs and maximize its efforts to bring the benefits of space down to Earth for all EU citizens.
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