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Space: Galileo provides a new exclusive function – the Return Link Service

EU Reporter Correspondent

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6 April was the International Search and Rescue Beacon day or “406 Day”, a day intended to remind Search and Rescue 406MHz beacon owners to test their beacons, check the batteries and update their registration. On this day, the Commission together with its partners (the European GNSS Agency (GSA), the European Space Agency (ESA), amongst others) is proud to celebrate the European contribution to this international effort by installing distress-alert receivers onboard the Galileo satellites.

This allows delivering unprecedented speed of detection of distress signals and accuracy in locating the position of the person in distress. Commissioner Thierry Breton, in charge of the Internal Market, said: "Through its satellites for distress-alert detection and location, Galileo contributes to search and rescue operations around the globe. It is a great European achievement that shows that Europe is not only an important space power, but also an actor continuously working for people's well-being."

Galileo is now providing a new Return Link Service function. This unique feature provides the user in distress with an acknowledgement indication on the beacon that the distress signal from the beacon was received and its position located. In just over a year since its first introduction, the Galileo Return Link feature has been endorsed by the Cospas-Sarsat Council in March 2021 as having achieved the transition to Full Operational Capacity, and is available worldwide.

On this occasion, the Commission sent invitations to more than 250 operational Search And Rescue units to collect their views and their expectations, so that the Next Developments of Galileo/SAR will match their operational needs as closely as possible, to save even more lives in the future. For more information, please read this news item.

Romania

Romania racing to become the second EU country to launch its own satellite

Cristian Gherasim, Bucharest correspondent

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The first Romanian satellite will be launched from the Black Sea area using a rocket designed and manufactured exclusively in the country, writes Cristian Gherasim.

With the June launch, Romania will put into orbit its first space satellite, becoming thus the second country in the EU after France to have done so.

According to the Romanian Cosmonautics and Aeronautics Association (ARCA), a private endeavor which focuses on building rockets and high altitude balloons, the launch is scheduled for early June.

By getting involved in launching Romania’s first satellite the Romanian Cosmonautics and Aeronautics Association aims to win the € 10 million prize offered by the European Commission. The award aims to stimulate the European aerospace industry to build satellite launch missiles, with a low impact on the environment and a low launch cost.

On ARCA Facebook page it’s being mentioned that the company has previously blasted into the higher layers of the atmosphere two stratospheric rockets, four large-scale stratospheric balloons, including a cluster-type balloon, and received two government contracts with the Romanian Government and a contract with the European Space Agency. It is also in the process of devising EcoRocket - a semi-reusable, steam-powered missile.

In the meantime, the volume of information needed to be gathered in order to prepare for the June space launch is staggering. There are very demanding requirements to be met in order for everything to go according to plan.

The people involved in every detail of this endeavor have to first go through a very rigorous training program, both from a theoretical but also practical standpoint. The technicalities involved are numerous and so many things can go wrong.

The company handling the launch said in a statement: “ARCA launch missions that include naval operations are the most complex type of mission we conduct. They require an exceptional effort to coordinate operations, in close cooperation with actively involved naval and military and civil aviation units. The security measures of the launch are exceptional, and we are proud of a 100% safety percentage."

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EU

Space: 10th Anniversary of the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) Safety of Life (SoL) Service

EU Reporter Correspondent

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We are celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) Safety of Life (SoL) Service. The service was declared operational by the Commission in March 2011. In nearly 400 airports across Europe, the EGNOS SoL Service is supporting civil aviation precision approaches thanks to improved navigation based on GPS. It makes the aviation sector safer and more efficient for the European operators, while significantly contributing to the reduction of the aviation environmental footprint. The SoL Service is also intended to support applications in a wide range of other domains such as maritime, rail and road.

Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said: "Implementing innovation is at the heart of the European Union space programme, allowing many different sectors to take advantage of the space-based services to develop their activities, having at heart the well-being of citizens. The EGNOS SoL is a successful example of this approach.”

EGNOS is Europe's regional satellite-based augmentation system. It has been Europe's first venture in the world of satellite navigation and is used to improve the performances of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), such as GPS and Galileo in the future. EGNOS improves the accuracy and reliability of GNSS positioning information, while also providing a crucial integrity message to confirm the usability of the GNSS signal. EGNOS is currently managed by the European GNSS Agency (GSA) under the leadership of the Commission. More info on EGNOS can be found here.

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European Commission

SMEs: Commission and the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency support SMEs in the space sector

EU Reporter Correspondent

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The Commission and the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA) will present the winners of the MyGalileoSolution and MyGalileoDrone competitions in the first Entrepreneurship Day 2021 virtual press conference today (3 March). The competitions showcase how the agency fosters innovation for SMEs and start-ups based on the EU Space Programme. They will feature the top 80 contestants of both MyGalileoDrone and MyGalileoSolution in three thematic areas, showcasing applications relating to drones, internet of things and mobile applications, all leveraging on Galileo satellite technology.

The winning teams were selected based on their innovative use of Galileo, their market-oriented approach and commercial potential. The total prize pool of the competitions was €1.7 million, including the grand prizes for the top teams and smaller awards for qualifying solutions. Contestants were evaluated by a team of experts composed by the GSA and European Commission and the main award criteria involved innovation, Galileo relevance, market potential and feasibility in realizing the ideas. Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said: “The future of the European space industry is a combination of strong institutional leadership and European approach to New Space. The new Space entrepreneurship initiative: CASSINI launched earlier this year is made to boost start-ups and space innovation. The dynamism of European entrepreneurs using EU space technology is once more confirmed by the very positive reactions to the MyGalileo competitions.” Rodrigo da Costa, GSA Executive Director, said: “The MyGalileoSolution and MyGalileoDrone competitions play an important role in fostering the uptake of Galileo across a wide range of market segments. A key role of the GSA, and of EUSPA in the future, is to increase the competitiveness of the EU downstream industry by supporting innovators, SMEs and start-ups. These two competitions help us to do exactly that.”

Both competitions are in line with the Commission's CASSINI space entrepreneurship initiative for the period 2021-2027. First announced in the EU SME Strategy, the initiative aims to increase the number and the chances of succeeding of space-based start-ups as well as facilitate access to public and private capital for both them and SMEs. For more information on the winners of the competition here.

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