European update: SatNav summit in MunichStory
May 30, 2007
Prestigious venue The fifth annual Munich Satellite Navigation Summit of global government, commercial, and technical experts was held March 6-8, 2007 in the Residenz in Munich, Germany. This was the residence of the former Bavarian kings in the ...
The fifth annual Munich Satellite Navigation Summit of global government, commercial, and technical experts was held
March 6-8, 2007 in the Residenz in Munich, Germany. This was the residence of the former Bavarian kings in the center of Munich. It is also one of the most prestigious venues in Germany, showing due respect to the high-ranking delegates who came to the summit from all around the world. The summit was followed by a one-day field trip on March 9 to the Berchtesgaden area. The summit delegates were permitted to visit the special Galileo Test and Development (GATE) installation in a mountain valley in the Bavarian Alps.
The summit was opened by Erwin Huber, Minister of Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Transport, and Technology of the Free State of Bavaria, Germany, and Pedro Pedreira, Executive Director of the European GNSS Supervisory Authority. The summit’s opening event was a reception in the All Saints Court Church, inside the Residenz, a solid block of buildings arranged around seven inner courts. Professor Dr. Guenter W. Hein and a team of others from the University of the German Armed Forces, Munich, Germany, organized the summit, conference, and field trip. The conference opened with statements from the major global providers of satellite navigation systems: GPS (United States), Galileo (Europe), and GLONASS (Russia). Addtionally, there were statements from the heads of delegations representing satellite navigation activities in Japan, India, Australia, and China. The United States and India had signed an agreement concerning GPS a few days before the conference. Australia is building a Galileo ground station near Brisbane, capital of Queensland, Australia. Thomas Reiter, German astronaut, reported about his recent several-month stay in the International Space Station (ISS). For more information on ISS, see VMEbus Systems magazine, February 2006, page 16. Reiter is now a veteran astronaut, having traveled on American and Russian shuttles to work on the ISS. He has been up in space several times for a total of 350 days, including several space walks.
The main topic at the conference was international cooperation on the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) to make the three major satellite navigation systems as compatible as possible. Galileo, still in the experimental stage, will start with reduced precision to be more compatible with current GPS. There is a major upgrade effort underway to improve GPS precision. GLONASS is on an improvement plan to match current GPS precision in the not-so-distant future.
The summit’s top-ranking speakers included:
- Ralph Braibanti, Director of Space and Advanced Technology, U.S. State Department
- Marc C. Crews, Colonel, Navstar GPS Chief Engineer, U.S. Air Force
- Professor Dr. Guenter W. Hein, Institute of Geodesy and Navigation, University of the German Armed Forces
- Pedro Pedreira, Executive Director of the European GNSS Supervisory Authority
- Sergey G. Revnivykh, Deputy Head of Mission Control Center (GLONASS)
- Professor Dr. Chris Rizos, Professor and Head, School of Surveying and Spatial Information Systems, Sydney, Australia
- Arun Singh, Space Applications Centre, India
- Koji Terada, Project Manager of QZSS, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Most other speakers and panelists were technical experts from Europe and many countries around the world. Figure 1, courtesy of Technology Consulting, Germany, shows Ralph Braibanti and Erwin Huber at the press conference in the One Pillar Hall at the Residenz, Munich.
Figure 1: Ralph Braibanti and Erwin Huber at the press conference in the One Pillar Hall at the Residenz, Munich
(Click graphic to zoom by 1.9x)
Status of Galileo
The European satellite navigation system is now in its initial phase of deployment, and one satellite is orbiting. It is used to test the system and its precision. Previously, a Zeppelin had been used to simulate navigation signals from space. Many Galileo teams have been testing all kinds of difficult environments. A few months ago, I participated exclusively during testing at the railway marshalling yard north of Munich. Reflections from all the metal in the rails, the Faraday cage effect from the electrical overhead wires, and reflections from many large freight trains moving nearby were easily filtered out.
The GATE area in the mountain valley near Berchtesgaden in the area bordering Salzburg, Austria, has been chosen to test simulated satellite signals because of very high mountains on three sides of the mountain resort. About 160 companies and institutes worldwide are participating. Repeaters on top of the mountains relay the signals into the valley. Special international testing will be performed there September 2-9, 2007. The First International Summer School on Global Satellite Navigation Systems will be organized by the University of the German Armed Forces in cooperation with Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, United States, and Ecole Nationale Superieure de l'Aeronautique et de l'Espace, Toulouse, France.
For more information, e-mail Hermann at