[CNESMAG] Galileo/Copernicus, vectors of strategic autonomy for

Informal meeting of European space ministers in Toulouse in February 2022. Credit: Hamilton de Oliveira / MEFR

The past few months have been busy when it comes to location decisions. Since the Space Regulation adopted in April 2021 by the European Commission, until the Communication on Connectivity in February 2022, The European Union and its member states are equipping themselves with the Galileo and Copernicus programs as focal points.

Galileo: no longer dependent on a third party and meets civilian needs

In the early 90s, the US GPS system, of military origin, offered a deliberately degraded public signal. Know this quality defects add critical risks : The US can at will vary the signal’s effect on a part of the globe (flex-power), discriminate a zone or even distort the signal.

“Europe has found out that we cannot depend on such a system. We had to have our own capacity and free ourselves from dangers. Galileo therefore responds from the outset to a goal of European sovereignty. recalls Jean Maréchal, head of the navigation program at CNES.

The big difference is the intent of the European GNSS system: “We started from the same concept as the GPS, without making a copy. We envisioned the services of the future that could work for civilian needs. However, military use was not absent, with service reserved for government needs. »

Outstanding services, backed by technological excellence

In the early days of Galileo, high quality signals have been defined. A far cry from the “rustic” side of GPS with which it shares a frequency. ” GPS is always inventing new signals, with a strong dependence on the renewal schedule of the satellites or ground segment. Galileo has made room in its signals in advance to invent new services and meet the needs Explains Jean Maréchal.

The architecture built by ESA is based on technological advances that enable Galileo global interoperability with other GNSS signals. Both the on-board segment and the ground infrastructure have the best instruments on board or installedfor optimal precision and correction speed.

Far beyond simple positioning data, Galileo ensures the transmission of alarm messages, the provision of return channels for emergency signals and tomorrow’s authentication or high-precision services. As a result, new professional (agricultural, construction, etc.) or scientific functions will be available without being dependent on anyone.

Galileo is a double vision of Europe which is illustrated: sovereignty in terms of services, both civil and military, but also technologies.

Jean Maréchal, Head of Satellite Navigation Programs. Credit: ©CNES/DE PRADA Thierry, 2021

Jean Maréchal, head of the navigation program at CNES


Towards a superior and secure means of satellite communication with Connectivity

“Launched in 2013, GovSatCom was the beginning of what the Connectivity Initiative represents, announced at the 13th European Space Conference. Faced with the risk of network disruption or unavailability, it becomes possible to share secure communication resources between Member States. stresses Jean Maréchal.

The initiative goes beyond the strict government requirement. A survey brings together European satellite manufacturers, operators and service providers, telecommunications operators and launch service providers. A report on the work is expected at the end of 2022. Ultimately, the secure space connectivity system should complement existing space capabilities. It will supplement in case of failure, create synergies and accommodate additional space sensors.

The collective scale to provide sufficient scope

It would have been a lot complicated for a European state to have such a navigation infrastructure alone and make it available to other states. Galileo and Copernicus are exceptions: they are only infrastructure owned by the EU.

Member States’ delegation in space matters was strictly related to navigation and earth observation. It has grown considerably. In the early 2000s, the transfer of the project from ESA, technical carrier of Galileo, to the European Commission and GSA (which became EUSPA in 2021), changed the dimension of the project. ” Only the European Union was and is capable of carrying out a space project of this magnitude and managing it over time. ” supports Jean Maréchal.

The context also weighed heavily: the space program announced by Commissioner Thierry Breton in February 2022 really anchors the system to a European vision based on strategic autonomy. It follows a single framework, known as the “Space Regulation”, adopted in April 2021.

Strengthen the commercial capacity to project and protect

In November 2021, the Commission published the so-called “enhanced operational capability” of Galileo. This formalizes Europe’s independence in terms of positioning, navigation and spatial synchronization.

A substantial budget has been released for the common space policy (€14.88 billion) and should enable action to be taken multiple axes. Modernization of flagship programs (Galileo, Copernicus, EGNOS), access to space such as monitoring and protection of space infrastructure figures prominently there. Like the financial support for Newspace. “The regulation emphasizes the need to find the means to finance space policy. The €1 billion Cassini Space Investment Fund will support competitiveness, stimulate innovation and deliver new services.” explains Jean Maréchal.

room surveillance will be a major area of ​​effort: Both heritage and commercial capacity are mobilized together and complement each other. Member States are fully aware that the economy is a key means of securing our sovereignty says Pascal Faucher, head of the space safety program at CNES.

Room surveillance is at the crossroads of needs. We need to understand, analyze, identify behavior in space: we cannot remain blind operating our constellations without knowing what is happening around

Pascal Faucher, program manager for space safety at CNES. Credit: DR

Pascal Faucher, program manager for space safety at CNES

The latter emphasizes strong decisions on heritage capacities and calls for strengthening the 2nd segment by “increasing support for the economic ecosystem and start-ups dedicated to space surveillance, like what is done in the US”. It expects greater resources for Space Situational Awareness (SSA) during the next commitment period.

A new platform helps connect EU SST and satellite operators to protect against the risk of collisions. Credit: EU SST

Management, surveillance, surveillance of traffic in space: Europe takes action

ASAT (anti-satellite) firing, close range resistance operations, jamming/decoys, debris re-entry are not fantasies. The risk is growing. Pascal Faucher is happy about that “The Space Regulation has made SSA a full component of the European Union’s space programme”.
The EU SST consortium aims for a higher level of strategic autonomy by relying on space surveillance capabilities such as the GRAVES radar in France from the Ministry of the Armed Forces. It allows operators and users of national and European satellites to get a high quality European service. Currently, almost 300 European satellites are protected against the risk of collision in all orbital regimes, and this number will increase exponentially with the opening of the service outside the EU. A sign of its strategic nature: it will expand from 7 to 15 Member States in the coming months.

Copernicus, a unique Earth observation system in the world

The Global Monitoring Environment and Safety (GMES) program originated in 1998 under the Baveno Manifesto. From the early 200s, the European Commission established preparatory activities, followed by an initial system in 2011-2013, then a program as such in 2014 – renamed Copernicus – to make it operational. Now 8 Sentinel satellites developed by ESA provide data for 6 important community services. 10 new satellites will be launched over the next few years.

“This environmental management program, driven by user needs, is carried out using geographic data combined with in situ data” explains Véronique Mariette, head of the Copernicus program at CNES. “It is extremely important to have Europe as a leader: it has given this program a unique scope. The free and unfettered provision of data, then their processing by delegated European entities, allows access to basic services and high-quality products .”. Other, more comprehensive services can then be created. Copernicus is also the framework for gathering industrial expertiseas evidenced by the quality of the current Sentinels and the new generation that is emerging.

The Sentinel 2 satellite. Credit: CNES/ESA/Arianespace/Optique Video CSG, 2017

Faced with climate change, the development of the Copernicus program will make it possible to cover increasingly critical needs of Europeans that affect their environment and their security.

Véronique Mariette, Copernicus project manager at CNES.

Véronique Mariette, Copernicus project manager at CNES. Credit: CNES/PEUS Christophe, 2021

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