2020 has been a challenging year, yet thanks to the dedication of the GSA team and our cooperation with the European Commission, ESA, Member States, industry (upstream and downstream) and with our colleagues and stakeholders throughout Europe, we have managed to continue to deliver secure EGNOS and Galileo services to an increasing number of users around the globe.
The year started with the declaration of a key Galileo differentiator – the Return Link Service. The value of the service was demonstrated recently with the dramatic rescue of a French sailor when his solo round-the-world yacht race came to an end in rough seas.?
Another early success was the entry into service of the EGNOS GEO-3 payload, which will augment both GPS and Galileo in the L1 and L5 bands, provide additional satellite-based augmentation system service capabilities through a new SBAS channel on L5, and will deliver increased EGNOS service availability within and beyond the EU, supporting a growing number of users.
However, by March it was already clear that the Coronavirus situation was not going to go away any time soon. As Europe entered lockdown, across all GSA sites we started to work on ensuring business continuity. With little advance notice, and leveraging on the agility and creativity of the whole team, we quickly moved almost all our activities on-line without significant disruption. Together with the European Commission we looked into GNSS-based solutions to respond to the crisis, and developed an app to ease pressure at the EU’s internal borders. The “Galileo Green Lane” app proved to be very popular with border authorities and drivers and helped enable the efficient transit of critical goods, keeping EU borders open to freight at this critically important time.
Throughout the year, we continued to work on a series of initiatives to boost innovation and support European entrepreneurs working on ideas and applications leveraging Galileo, EGNOS and Copernicus, with a particular focus on synergies between the three. Engagement with the MyGalileoDrone, Geomatics on the Move, Farming by Satellite and MyGalileoSolution competitions has exceeded expectations. In October, we issued the third edition of our eagerly awaited GNSS User Technology Report. Do make sure you have a read through it yourself over the Christmas break if you have not yet done so.
Together we have put in place all the necessary measures to increase the resilience of operations at the Galileo and EGNOS operational centres in Europe and remote sites around the world. The success of this joint effort is measured by the quality of services delivered every day by EGNOS and Galileo. We have also deployed further system updates, in cooperation with ESA and industry, and have demonstrated the GSMC dual site operations with our new Galileo Security Monitoring Centre (GSMC) site in Spain.?
As we progress towards full operational capability, we are working non-stop to make Galileo more robust, continuously learning from day-to-day operations and our experience from past events. The Galileo Search and Rescue ground facilities have also been upgraded. The latest upgrades carried out on SAR/Galileo Local User Terminals in Spain, Cyprus and Norway are helping the International COSPAS-SARSAT Programme transition towards MEOSAR completion, which ultimately translates into more lives being saved.
All our events moved online, turning the physical restrictions imposed by Covid-19 into an opportunity to reach new user communities and go global, this was the case for example with the User Consultation Platform and our annual European Space Week online. The latter event, which was special to me since it was my first European Space Week as GSA Executive Director, was a great success with over 3000 participants from more than 100 countries.?
Looking to the year ahead, the transformation of the GSA into the European Union Space Programme Agency (EUSPA) will finally happen, with the new regulation expected to be formally adopted in early 2021. We will work together to overcome challenges and create opportunities, with a particular focus on exploiting the synergies between the different components of the programme.
As this challenging year ends, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my team at the GSA for their dedication, hard work, commitment and the great spirit demonstrated throughout the year. I would also like to thank our partners at the European Commission, at the European Space Agency and in the Member States and industry for your support in achieving our shared goals. Finally, I would like to thank you, the EUSpace user community, for your ongoing trust and support. It is thanks to this support that the GSA is growing from strength to strength and is able to continue delivering on the promise of space for Europe and its citizens.
Happy holidays to you all.
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