Europe’s satellite navigation system Galileo back online after days of outage

Europe’s satellite navigation system Galileo returned to service on Thursday after days of outage.

The European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency said in a statement that Galileo Initial Services have now been restored; commercial users can already see signs of recovery of the Galileo navigation and timing services, although some fluctuations may be experienced until further notice.

The Prague-based agency explained that the outage originated by an equipment malfunction in the Galileo ground infrastructure, affecting the calculation of time and orbit predictions — which are used to compute the navigation message. The malfunction affected different elements on the ground facilities.

“We will set an Independent Inquiry Board to identify the root causes of the major incident”, which will “draw lessons for the management of an operational system with several millions of users worldwide,” said the agency.

It stressed that Galileo was in an “initial services” period since December 2016, and “during this initial ‘pilot’ phase, Galileo signals are used in combination with other satellite navigation systems, which allows for the detection of technical issues before the system becomes fully operational. In the full operational phase, Galileo should function independently of other satellite navigation systems.”

Nevertheless, the outage, started since last week, has been widely seen as a major embarrassment for the European Union, which during the outage struggled to explain the cause.