updated 04:05 pm EST, Fri January 27, 2012
30 Satellite network to turn on in 2014
The European Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Agency has struck a deal with the Czech government to have Prague serve as the headquarters for Galileo, the European rival to the US' Global Positioning System (GPS). The European network of 30 satellites orbiting the globe is expected to start operation in 2014. The Europeans claim that Galileo is more accurate and reliable than GPS, which began full operation in 1993.
The Europeans see many uses for its positioning services in the public beyond its most traditional usage, providing directions to travelers. These include applications ranging from precision seeding of crops to pinpoint positioning for search-and-rescue missions. The European Union also hopes to derive some financial profit from Galileo.
Galileo is not the only global positioning system to take flight. In December, the Chinese government turned on the switch for its BeiDou satellite tracking system. The Chinese currently have ten satellites in orbit. They plan on having another six in place by the end of this year. Ultimately, BeiDou will have 35 satellites in its network.
The Russians also have a satellite network known as GLONASS. It has 27 satellites circling the globe. Qualcomm has said that its mid-tier Snapdragon S2 and S3 mobile processors, used in cell phones and tablets, will actually begin leveraging both GPS and GLONASS to provide location information with accuracy of within two meters (six feet, six inches). [via AP, photo courtesy of ESA]