back to article Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, where to go? Navigation satellite signals flip from degraded to full TITSUP* over span of four days

The multibillion-euro navigation system Galileo went dark over the weekend. Things began to wobble last Thursday, 11 July, as the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (EGSA) issued an advisory at 14:45 UTC warning of "service degradation". At the time, sat-nav mag Inside GNSS reported that sources within the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Galexit

    I'll get my coat.

  2. Psmo Bronze badge

    Day off drunk for the Fête Nationale Française ?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Actually Germany, Italy, and Spain (taken over from the UK from the 1st of March).

      It's nice to know that they were "notified within a matter of seconds" when something went wrong.

      1. Psmo Bronze badge

        So probably just Algerians out celebrating again, then.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "notified within a matter of seconds"

        But which seconds? That seems to be the problem.

        Looking forward to the On Call.

  3. Martin an gof Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "While EGSA scrambles"

    So long as they don't fry.

    M.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: "While EGSA scrambles"

      Definitely not sunny side up or easy over

  4. Lee D Silver badge

    A suspicious mind would notice lots of very odd happenings in the world of tech at the moment.

    Cloudflare worldwide downtime.

    Galileo knocked offline.

    New York blackouts.

    All, while not unprecedented, certainly unusual, and all happening in little brief window in 2019. Even Google GSuite threw a wobbly not long ago and all its services were out for much of the world.

    A suspicious mind would say... oh look... cybersecurity... someone gently probing to see the extent they can cause hassle, should they decide to. All "explained" of course, all "internal" causes (but who's to say that the best way to do these things isn't to do them from the inside or make them look like that's where they came from?).

    In a world where the US is snubbing China, cosying up to Russia, and pushing away Europe, who's to say what's actually happening.

    If nothing else, it should make us think... if three things can all be caused by a slight glitch in the IT... what could a hostile nation state actually achieve if it wanted to?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Your list is incomplete and thus partial. Yes, we're living in ever complexer systems, but, as with the Cloudflare problems, the explanations are often simple enough.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >what could a hostile nation state actually achieve if it wanted to?

      Launch a shit load of nuclear weapons or release an airborne transmissible type of HIV but why not go full conspiracy and fear the lizard aliens ?

      1. Ken 16 Silver badge
        Alien

        I thought the OP was going to suggest Alien interference too and earth government cover ups.

        1. mikepren

          Like a bit of lizard. All hail our alien overlords

    3. Merrill

      Failures of these sorts are vital since they cause providers to exercise their recovery procedures and they cause users to exercise their mitigation, fallback and recovery procedures. Absent randomly occurring failures at some reasonable frequency society would build itself up for real catastrophic failures.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        When a tiny regex is capable of taking down a huge chunk of the world's websites (mainly because someone turned off the CPU-limits on queries, I believe!), or a small BGP announcement capable of rerouting vast portions of the Internet through Russia or China, or one timing station capable of taking down an entire global satellite network for days at a time...

        I don't think we're learning those lessons. This is kind of my point. We are highlighting the sheer fragility of these things that we're basing our daily existence on, where a slip of a key results in downtime for billions of people. There's no way that we're then in any way learning if they keep happening (e.g. Cloudflare has gone down a few times, BGP outages are still happening all over), and that's not even when someone with actual hostile intent is *trying* to do something.

        We're seriously too vulnerable for this kind of thing to be possible and not be immediately rolled back to some kind of "fallback" state from 10 minutes before it all goes titsup.

        The precursor to the weapons is going to be completely crippling the Internet to prevent assistance / warning, not to mention that that could well be the method of attack itself (e.g. SCADA controls like we did to Iran?)... The bombs you can't stop. But if they are able to stop you retaliating in any significant fashion because a) you don't know and b) they can use the same attacks against your systems so you can't retaliate at all, then it's not nuclear winter you need be afraid of. It's someone literally walking into your country, annexing it, and nobody being any the wiser until the digital dust settles by which time it's too late.

        1. phuzz Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Well fortunately, as history has shown, humans are really good at learning from the mistakes of the past so we can expect this to never happen again. Definitely.

        2. Chronos Silver badge

          We are highlighting the sheer fragility of these things that we're basing our daily existence on

          That, right there, is the problem. Not the fragility but the dependence. This is why a cashless society, for example, is a frighteningly bad idea...

        3. Sureo

          "...crippling the Internet..."

          Having lived half of my life before the internet existed, I can assure you that life without the internet is possible, maybe even nice.

          1. Lars Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: "...crippling the Internet..."

            Yes, I remember those times too, but the point is that because of the internet it's difficult without it now.

            There was a time when had all horses died lots of difficulties would have occurred too.

        4. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

          Absolutely. As a species we don't seem to be very good at risk management/minimisation. The original theory of the Internet (if a bit is bust it routes round it) seems to have gone out of the window a long time ago. Same with many other areas - power generation? Much more resilient to have lots of small sources rather than one mega one. Potentially the same with transport - one key failure in a centralised traffic light system and a city grinds to a halt.

          By all means put things in a 'Cloud', but a Cloud made up of multiple chunks that do not depend on each other. It shouldn't be possible for Cloudflare, or GMail, or GSuite or whatever to 'break' globally.

          1. Cylindric

            Do you have any specific data to back that up? We seem to be surviving in droves, despite the constant rain of failing equipment and technology. Oh wait. That's not happening, despite the increasing complexity of the world we live in.

            I suspect that since we started rubbing sticks together to make fire, someone has been lamenting the impending doom almost guaranteed by the new-fangled complexities.

    4. TRT Silver badge

      And my shopping basket at John Lewis is like I've gone in store with a kleptomaniac toddler.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What are the benefits?

      Or worse, how easily can cyber security professionals differentiate between accidents, bugs or design flaws and the actions of a hostile adversary?

      You can imagine scenarios where a genuine bug is micharacterised as a cyber attack by an opposing nation, leading to escalating retaliations and we're back to the 1960/70s.

    6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "A suspicious mind would notice lots of very odd happenings in the world of tech at the moment."

      SNAFU

    7. Caltharian
      Terminator

      My money is on a rogue ai flexing its muscles, seeing what it is able to do.

      I for one welcome our new robot overlords

    8. John Sturdy
      Coat

      At least Cloudflare were open about the reasons, unlike Galileo, a nominally public body.

    9. Tom Paine Silver badge
      Boffin

      First rule of comedy, I mean outage attribution...

      "Could it be a squirrel?"

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_disruptions_caused_by_squirrels

      Yes. Yes it could be.

      Of course squirrels are just the posterchild for "innocent explanations for outages" to go with "software update went wrong" and "clustered network switch unexpected failure mode".

      See also "the SAN shat the bed". Not sure if that one's got itr's own Wikipedia article though.

  5. STOP_FORTH
    Joke

    Huzzah!

    Jacob Rees-Mogg and his chums will be replacing this foreign shambles with an all-old British design.

    Fabricated from bronze, alabaster and Bakelite by artisans from the Midlands, the new Blighty satellite constellation will be the wonder of the world.

    Clockwork receivers will churn out your position in OS co-ordinates, height above sea-level and GMT as well as direction to nearest open Public House.

    Clockwork receivers can also be used with a sextant as a back-up.

    God Bless Britannia.

    1. monty75

      Re: Huzzah!

      And none of this continental constellation nonsense, either. Britnav satellites will all line up one behind the other in a proper British queue.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Huzzah!

        And go round in ever-smaller circles.

        Alternatively just how do you manage to set up a geostationary satellite that hovers directly over Birmingham?

        1. S4qFBxkFFg

          Re: Huzzah!

          "Alternatively just how do you manage to set up a geostationary satellite that hovers directly over Birmingham?"

          Tundra orbits: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tundra_orbit

          A figure 8 pattern in the sky is possible if you're not fussed about it remaining at a constant altitude - the Japanese do it with their QZSS satellites: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quasi-Zenith_Satellite_System

          The Sirius radio satellites over North America do the same sort of thing.

        2. bazza Silver badge

          Re: Huzzah!

          Alternatively just how do you manage to set up a geostationary satellite that hovers directly over Birmingham?

          Mysterious things happen in and around the Balti triangle... The laws of physics seem to break down, e.g. just how hot can human consumable nourishment get?

        3. HelpfulJohn

          Re: Huzzah!

          "Alternatively just how do you manage to set up a geostationary satellite that hovers directly over Birmingham?"

          Pole shift.

          HAB Theory.

          Birmingham ends up at 0N 0E. G.M.T. becomes B.L.T.

      2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Huzzah!

        Britnav satellites will all line up one behind the other in a proper British queue.

        And it'll be the same as always - you wait ages to get a fix on a BritSat and then 3 lock on at once.

    2. LDS Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Huzzah!

      You mean instead of atomic clocks they will have installed small Big Ben replicas?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Huzzah!

        I suppose one could consider the atrmoic clock (invented by the British) as working just like a "nanoBen", it still measures regular vibrations...

        1. Long John Brass Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Huzzah!

          I hear-by nominate the "nanoBen" as the new ElReg time keeping unit!

          That being the time it takes for light to travel one double-decker night bus at last bell.

        2. Lars Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Huzzah!

          "The idea of using atomic transitions to measure time was suggested by Lord Kelvin in 1879.[3] Magnetic resonance, developed in the 1930s by Isidor Rabi, became the practical method for doing this.[4] In 1945, Rabi first publicly suggested that atomic beam magnetic resonance might be used as the basis of a clock.[5] The first atomic clock was an ammonia absorption line device at 23870.1 MHz built in 1949 at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards "

          Isidor Rabi was American too.

    3. Rupert Fiennes Silver badge

      Re: Huzzah!

      A lot of the tech for Galileo (especially the crypto) was British anyway. If we want to build something, we certainly can. It's more a matter of whether we should bother on the basis that the money could be better spent elsewhere....

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Huzzah!

        And it will cost the same as Galileo, but we don't get to split the bill with 27 other countries.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Huzzah!

          "And it will cost the same as Galileo, but we don't get to split the bill with 27 other countries."

          It'd probably cost more, because I wouldn't trust the UK government to run any project competently.

          But the development work on the clocks has already been done in Blighty. That was hugely expensive and the one genuinely new bit of development needed. The rest of it's fairly ordinary space-going radio gear on what might as well be a standard satellite bus plus the usual space-hardened computer to run the fancy stuff - but they get more capable and/or cheaper with every passing year.

          So it *ought* to cost less, what with all that and cheaper launches now being available thanks to SpaceX et al., at least when compared to the first Galileo launches.

          It wouldn't, though, would it? :-/

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Huzzah!

            Interestingly, Britain could enlist the assistance of the European Space Agency in establishing an alternative to Galileo. Although ESA handles Galileo procurements for GSA and the EC, ESA is not an EU organisation and Britain will remain a member of ESA after Brexit. If the UK came along with some funding, ESA would be happy to help - in part, to signal their independence from the EC, who have annoyed ESA by talking of expanding the role of the GSA beyond satellite navigation.

            1. Spanners Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: Huzzah!

              Britain will remain a member of ESA after Brexit.

              Does JRM know this? He will want to fix that!

            2. Lars Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: Huzzah!

              I would suggest AC to read up on ESA and Galileo.

              Galileo was wholly taken over by the EU as the private industry did not take part as much as was hoped for.

              The European Space Agency (ESA) is an intergovernmental organisation of 22 member states[6] dedicated to the exploration of space. Established in 1975 and headquartered in Paris, France,

              EU and the European Space Agency

              The political perspective of the European Union (EU) was to make ESA an agency of the EU by 2014,[70] although this date was not met. The EU is already the largest single donor to ESA's budget and non-ESA EU states are observers at ESA.

              The contribution (2019) to ESA apart from the EU budget from member states.

              Mill E Contr.%

              France 1,174.4 28.1%

              Germany 927.1 22.2%

              Italy 420.2 10.1%

              UK 369.6 8.8%

              Spain 201.8 4.8%

              Belgium 191.4 4.6%

              .......

              This corresponds fairly well with the size of this industry in those countries.

              I have no doubt every European country would be able to build a system for themselves as it's all about only time and money but I doubt anybody will, and that goes for Britain too, as it's obvious that the balance between time and money and on the other hand status and advantages will lean strongly towards lunacy.

              Then again, if the wonder kid from Eton who never grew up and lives on belief becomes the PM then all odds are off.

              PS. Why would ESA like to build a competing system to Galileo, such rubbish.

          2. Baldrickk Silver badge

            Re: Huzzah!

            Maybe we should also invest in a Black Arrow 2?

            We are of course still the only country that has developed orbital capability and then then gone "nope, that's good enough" and closed the book on it.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Huzzah!

          "And it will cost the same as Galileo, but we don't get to split the bill with 27 other countries."

          How many miles of HS2 do we get for a measly £billion? I mean, a £billion is only 3 double decker buses worth of weekly EU subscriptions.

      2. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Huzzah!

        A lot of the tech for Galileo (especially the crypto) was British anyway. If we want to build something, we certainly can. It's more a matter of whether we should bother on the basis that the money could be better spent elsewhere....

        It's not the expertise, it's the implementation. No one would question British expertise ingenuity and engineering, it's British management that would mess it up.

        Whatever happened to the Beagles on Mars anyway....

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Huzzah!

      Jacob Rees-Mogg and his chums will be replacing this foreign shambles with an all-old British design.

      The clocks on the Galileo satellites are British-designed already, and did not fail the way the Swiss(!) ones did in the early satellites.

      The current outage is being blamed on the Precise Timing Facilities in the Fucino area, which manages the synchronization between the satellite clocks.

      1. Ken 16 Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Huzzah!

        which fucin* area is that?

      2. Julz Bronze badge

        Re: Huzzah!

        If that is the Fucino in L'Aquila Italy, didn't they have a pretty big earthquake there a few years ago. Perhaps they might like to choose a nice quiet place on an island in the middle of the Atlantic away from all sorts of dangers for the base station. Oh, now I remember...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "The clocks on the Galileo satellites are British-designed already"

        I don't think so. I'm working in the site that built them, and it's not in Britain...

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: "The clocks on the Galileo satellites are British-designed already"

          Who? You?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "The clocks on the Galileo satellites are British-designed already"

          I don't think so. I'm working in the site that built them

          Built ≠ designed

          and it's not in Britain...

          The next block of satellites have clocks from another bidder (Orolia?)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "The clocks on the Galileo satellites are British-designed already"

            References, please, here one:

            https://www.leonardocompany.com/en/news-and-stories-detail/-/detail/orologio-atomico-atomic-clock

            No mention about it being designed in Britain....

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: "The clocks on the Galileo satellites are British-designed already"

              "No mention about it being designed in Britain."

              No mention of anything at all unless javascript is enabled. We really need some technologically competent business to devise a language to convey marked-up data from websites to browser without all that extra overhead.

    5. colinb

      Re: Huzzah!

      yes i've heard the same rumour, i believe its clock will be set by detecting the boom of the Admiral's canon which he sets off everyday at 8am and 6pm sharp.

      Let's go fly a kite indeed. hip hip hooray

      1. John Jennings

        Re: Huzzah!

        Morning and Evening Colours (not of those colors here!), precise around the world (well, not really). And a cross-check when the sun creeps over the yard-arm. https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/-/media/royal-navy-responsive/documents/reference-library/brd2/ch91.pdf)

        6 bells for the tot of rum*

        BTW where is the yard arm on an aircraft carrier?

        half a pint, originally, of 57% Jamacan ! (truly a sad day in the 1970's) when that was abolished)

        1. khjohansen
          Pirate

          Re: Where is the yard arm (sic) on an aircraft carrier?

          You'll find the yardarm at the outer end of the yard ;) .. Jutting off the main mast in a horizontal fashion (AAarrrh ye landlubber!) P)

    6. Merrill

      Re: Huzzah!

      Unfortunately the Board of Longitude was abolished by Act of Parliament in 1828. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Board_of_Longitude

      1. elkster88
        Thumb Up

        Re: Huzzah!

        I commend the book "Longitude" to this forum.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longitude_(book)

    7. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Re: Huzzah!

      Problem solved. Mr. Chris Grayling will be in charge.

    8. Justthefacts

      You are right.....UK companies aren’t capable of doing this

      UK companies would be completely incapable to build and operate a satellite constellation guaranteeing less than 10 second per year outage, with global coverage.

      [Checks facts. Oh right, Astrium Stevenage and Inmarsat have done exactly this for over forty years. At a cost of one-tenth Galileo to build a more complex geostationary constellation. Providing safety of life services to the global maritime fleet, among others]

      Ok. Ok. The U.K. is “bad at commercialising technology”. The Germans just built it better and cheaper.

      [Checks facts. Oh right. Surrey Satellites have *actually built* Galileo spacecraft in half the budget and one third the time of the selected German contractor OHB]

      Check your facts before snarking Brexit prejudice.

      E.g. the Galileo cockup is in the Precise Timing Facility co-located in the Fucino satellite station. The very same Fucino station owned and operated by the British company Inmarsat that has never had a single minute outage in decades.

      If you checked your prejudice about Little Englanders, you would discover that U.K.-based Inmarsat employs staff from 174 out of 195 countries in the world, by mandate. Whereas the European Space Agency beacon of non-discrimination has the following typical job advertisement explicitly “prioritising” nationality to only 14 nationalities out of EU27.

      https://career2.successfactors.eu/career?career%5fns=job%5flisting&company=esa&navBarLevel=JOB%5fSEARCH&rcm%5fsite%5flocale=en%5fGB&career_job_req_id=8790&selected_lang=en_GB&jobAlertController_jobAlertId=&jobAlertController_jobAlertName=&_s.crb=Gw3DdAi59Hvclz6SBt%2fy5e1Bi5k%3d

      Is that a factor in this failure? Yes, I think it is. British tech companies are global teams in which to work. We are all comfortable with that and expect it. But an EU project in Fucino simply doesn’t employ the best engineers available for the project. They don’t have software testing running cost-effectively subcontracted in India. They don’t employ Chinese PhDs who learned their trade in Nokia Oulu, a couple of years in Kazakhstan, then a decade in Qualcomm San Diego. That’s what modern tech world looks like. The EU local politicised employment thing is just never going to be technically competitive, and hasn’t been already for a couple of decades.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You are right.....UK companies aren’t capable of doing this

        Don't spoil a good jingoistic 'Little Europeaner' rant with actual facts...

        Britain gave up an Empire as too hard and expensive to control, turning it into a commonwealth, way before the EU even got going.

        EU is Just Empire Envy from the Germans and French who made a mess of theirs.

        Brexit Britain isn't behind the curve, it's ahead of it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You are right.....UK companies aren’t capable of doing this

          To be fair Britain made a mess of it too and it was bankrupt after taking part in two world wars. Can we go back to 1776 please?

          1. Baldrickk Silver badge

            Re: You are right.....UK companies aren’t capable of doing this

            Pretty much everyone was bankrupt after the world wars.

            Only we also gave Germany plenty of support to rebuild - to rebuild with completely new and modern infrastructure...

            One take on this is that Germany has been so successful in the years following the war (on a tech/engineering level at least) because they got to take all the knowledge up to that point, and start from scratch in producing new products, whereas being victorious, we had no help getting our economy back up and running, and still had all the constraints of prior industry.

            For an example, imagine if our rail network had been destroyed. We would have had to rebuild, and might now have room for some of these larger trains in use in Europe today, instead of having the maximum size being restricted by the space beneath our bridges and inside our tunnels.

            Though I have to say, we have a lot more surviving history than in Germany too, which I personally love.

            1. Tom Paine Silver badge

              Re: You are right.....UK companies aren’t capable of doing this

              Only we also gave Germany plenty of support to rebuild

              No, that was America. And the UK received more in post-war Marshall aid than did Germany. Not a lot of people know that.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Plan

              1. AndyD 8-)₹

                Re: You are right.....UK companies aren’t capable of doing this

                Only we also gave Germany plenty of support to rebuild

                No, that was America. And the UK received more in post-war Marshall aid than did Germany. Not a lot of people know that.

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Plan

                and to what extent did that compensate for the cost of re-paying Lend-Lease?

              2. Baldrickk Silver badge

                Re: You are right.....UK companies aren’t capable of doing this

                "We" didn't necessarily mean "UK"... It's almost as if we had allies in the fight with us?

      2. STOP_FORTH
        Happy

        Re: You are right.....UK companies aren’t capable of doing this

        I seem to have touched a raw nerve.

        Last time I checked, taking the mickey out of our politicians, institutions and national characteristics actually was one of our more endearing characteristics in the UK. Did you not see the memo?

        Mentioning Walter the Softy does not have to relate to the B word does it?

        Last place I worked could only muster 167 nationalities in its workforce, but this not that unusual these days with multi-national tech companies. I would guess that someone like Intelsat would have a similarly diverse workforce.

        We remain the only country in the world to have abandoned space launch capability.

        It was a joke (see icon) not a rant from an anonymous coward.

        Do have a lovely day.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Huzzah!

      .... and all driven by steam powered by coal dug out of good old England and Wales by British artisan miners.

    10. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: Huzzah!

      If it's got a pub-finder feature, sign me up!

      1. STOP_FORTH
        Unhappy

        Re: Huzzah!

        Unfortunately, there may not be any pubs left by time of launch.

  6. Totally not a Cylon
    Coat

    Have they got Recovery?

    Time to call the women (and men) in yellow as according to the latest 'historical tapes' they now have an 'in space service'.

    Able to fix Starbug so must be good....

  7. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    What's the point of a pilot phase

    … if not to check for problems and test emergency routines?

    Certainly Galilieo has had more than its fair share of problems, but it seems both a little early and churlish to be making fun of it at this stage. We've become more or less dependent on sat-nav, so having a service not beholden to the military of a single government would seem like a sine qua non, n'est ce pas?

    1. John Sager

      Re: What's the point of a pilot phase

      Yes, but we're nearly 40 years since GPS started to come on stream. You would think that accumulated knowledge would make major failures like this less likely.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: What's the point of a pilot phase

        Galileo is significantly more accuate and ambitious than GPS, so some of the stuff is being done for the first time.

        Is this really a major failure? It's still in the test phase, in which case, while failures are not necessarily expected, it's as important to see how they're dealt with, as what actually went wrong. Is monitoring good enough? Are reaction times fast enough? Is theree sufficient redundancy and resiliency.

        I prefer to wait for the full explanation before declaring SNAFU, which, of course, it must just be.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: What's the point of a pilot phase

          Well it is in the pilot phase, that's true - but it's been in that phase since December 2016! That's a long time ago (even if not in a galaxy far away)...

          Obviously you'd expect a decent length of testing, but this does seem rather too long. Given that testing actually started earlier, when they were putting the first major lot of satellites into orbit. I imagine it also takes quite a while to commission them once they're on station - so that would lengthen the testing a lot, but the ground infrastructure has had a lot longer to test than some of the constellation - so this is a bit rubbish.

          Also it's a whole nother level of cock-up - to be out for half a week! This system is supposed to be robust enough for military targetting purposes, as well as various other high accuracy saftety-critical applications.

          1. lglethal Silver badge
            Go

            Re: What's the point of a pilot phase

            You cant declare you have a fully operational system until you have the full constellation in space. And unsurprisingly, it takes quite a long time to build the satellites and launch them, which is why there is despite starting so long ago, only 22 working satellites out of the planned 30 (ok 2 are launched but still in testing before joining the network). The whole thing is due to turn on next year officially, so I think they're going pretty well.

            TITSUP's happen, thats what testings for. And lets all be thankful, that the failure looks like coming from a ground segment. That's a hell of a lot easier to get a repair man to then orbit...

          2. John Jennings

            Re: What's the point of a pilot phase

            Its not been in testing that long - the constellation is not yet fully deployed. it has just reached critical minimum this year.

            The FIRST satellites went up only 2 years after the proposal was funded. I think its pretty damn good going.

            GPS can (and has been) selectively turned off at will by the military. This Gallelo system has a lot more functions and makes some others more financially achievable. GPS is in its 3rd or 4th generation, Gallelo does not use US tech in its assembly of course.

            As to a whole level of cock up - no its not - GPS has been out for almost as long in the past- and parts are out often - or reolution goes down to 10s of kilometers. GPS has only got the minimum constellation up at the moment - if any go down now, its goiong to be inaccurate until replacement series 3's can be deployed. You can review GPS outages here:

            https://navcen.uscg.gov/?Do=GPSReportStatus

            1. Rupert Fiennes Silver badge

              Re: What's the point of a pilot phase

              Be aware GPS was in service with only 12 satellites during the first Gulf War, despite the actual minimum requirement being 24. Although there were unavailable periods, it still worked.

              1. Louis Schreurs

                Re: What's the point of a pilot phase

                Beside the point.

            2. bazza Silver badge

              Re: What's the point of a pilot phase

              Its not been in testing that long - the constellation is not yet fully deployed. it has just reached critical minimum this year.

              It's not exactly been plain sailing to this point though. Given the clock problems (which may or may not have been sorted out), one wonders for how long the constellation will be fully operational.

              The FIRST satellites went up only 2 years after the proposal was funded. I think its pretty damn good going.

              I recall that they had to get something up there transmitting sharpish in order to keep the frequency allocations live. Once you've applied to the ITU for a license, the clock starts transmitting and they will cancel your allocation if you don't use it.

              Gallelo does not use US tech in its assembly of course.

              Perhaps that's showing up; why would European generation 1 necessarily be reliable?

              TBH I think the people who have got this right are the Japanese. Their few satellites compliement GPS quite nicely, but the way they've avoided having to have finickety atomic clocks on board is genius. It makes the satellites cheaper and probably more reliable, without degrading performance. That's clearly the way to go, even if you do have to have a global array of ground stations. However, despite everything the sun still doesn't set on what's left of the British empire. If anyone can host such ground stations within its own territories with sufficient visibility to allow the QZSS style of timekeeping to work globally, Britain probably can, especially if countries like Canada, Japan and Australia want to join in too. A GPS compatible GNSS could probably be launched for surprisingly small amounts of money.

              1. STOP_FORTH
                Thumb Up

                Re: What's the point of a pilot phase

                That QZSS system looks really neat. Hadn't heard of it before.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: What's the point of a pilot phase

                Of course, no high precision on board clock means you can take the system down in a large area with one attack missile or a couple of demolition charges.

            3. Tom Paine Silver badge

              Re: What's the point of a pilot phase

              It's not my area, but presumably the first iterations of GPS were only usable by the US military, and thus any outages or problems wouldn't have got a great deal of publicity.

            4. Jaybus

              Re: What's the point of a pilot phase

              "https://navcen.uscg.gov/?Do=GPSReportStatus"

              Does the EU have a status report for Galileo similar to the American status report on GPS?

          3. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: What's the point of a pilot phase

            Quote

            Also it's a whole nother level of cock-up - to be out for half a week! This system is supposed to be robust enough for military targetting purposes, as well as various other high accuracy saftety-critical applications.

            Which leads on to...

            Its nice to know taking out a small building in Italy will disable the Euro-GPS system...

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: What's the point of a pilot phase

              Taking out the espresso machine in a small building in Italy will disable the system, in my experience of working there

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: What's the point of a pilot phase

              As us mere mortals aren't bothered about relying on the generous US largese (beer owed), one could argue that the only reasons for Gallileo to exist at all is:

              1) for French overseas millitary operations taking place without US service denials. Pity they put a critical component in Italy then (especially as Italy is reputed to be becoming in thrall to Chinese financial, and surely then politiical, influence).

              2) so that European politicians can slap their space dicks on the Who's Big in Space table and show off. Currently looking a bit deflated there, chaps?

              1. VerySlowData
                Thumb Up

                Re: What's the point of a pilot phase

                upvote for space dicks! (or should that be Dicks in Spaaaaaace....?)

          4. Tom Paine Silver badge

            Re: What's the point of a pilot phase

            it's been in that phase since December 2016! That's a long time ago

            Two and a half years isn't that long for something as huge and complex as a new satellite constellation plus ground stations doing extremely high precision stuff (in space and time.)

            Compare with, say, HMS Queen Elizabeth - commissioned in 2017, not scheduled to be fully operational until 2020 at the earliest, with the first operational cruise pencilled in for 2021.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: What's the point of a pilot phase

          "Are reaction times fast enough? Is theree sufficient redundancy and resiliency."

          Apparently not yet. There simply can't be a 100% shutdown in the production system when you consider what the planned uses are. Yes, the users can easily fall back to another, competing system, but the reality is the system must not just stop working, ever. It may run in a degraded state for some short length of time, but never actually stop.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What's the point of a pilot phase

        Just like accumulated knowledge has made new software failproof and we've been writing software for longer than forty years. Oh, hang on a minute ...

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: What's the point of a pilot phase

      My phone, and most smartphones since about the Galaxy Note 1 era (c 8 years ago), take readings from both the American GPS and Russian GLONASS satellites.

  8. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    It's not surprising that they have issues with time. I've been to Europe and they never seem to know what the correct time is. It's out by an hour in France, and the problem seems to get worse and worse as you travel East.

    1. Steve Aubrey
      Joke

      And New Yawk? Fuggedaboutit.

    2. John R. Macdonald

      @Kubla Cant

      Wait till you get to New Zealand!!

      1. Jaybus

        Yes. If you go far enough East, people don't even know what day it is.

  9. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    Something about your time is up Europe. Probably a quote from some meglomanical ruler.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GPS Shrugged

    So, it's back to the Atlas.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: GPS Shrugged

      Ayn Rand is smiling somewhere..

  11. caffeine addict Silver badge

    I'm sure coincidences are coincidental, but it's interesting that Galileo went down a month after GPS glitched.

    Would be nice to have something truly independent. Maybe that what old Jimmy Wales is saving up for. (Actually, that's a point, what happened to ElReg's anti-wiki posts? They were more frequent than BOFH posts at one point.)

    1. STOP_FORTH
      Unhappy

      Andrew isn't here any more.

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      There were (are?) long wave systems that provided a very different alternative but they suffer from much poor accuracy in comparison (direct consequence of limited bandwidth), generally were not designed to provide altitude, and consume a lot of power to run the numerous ground stations.

      Probably a damn sight cheaper though than chucking £5bn at a Brexit alternative though...

      Edited to add: Seems the UK decided to close its Loran facilities in 2015 (oh, bad timing!) and the US is considering resurrecting it at around $35M/year cost in 2007 but has also closed its facilities:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loran-C#United_Kingdom_eLORAN_implementation

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        eLoran would be either an excellent alternative, or indeed a prime equivalent of a GNSS. The accuracy achieved was pretty good AFAIK (meters). Applying modern digital receiver technology to a very old-style signal was a good idea.

        One really big advantage is that it's very difficult to jam over any appreciable area; you need large antennas to radiate power at those frequencies, not something the ordinary jamming enthusiast is going to fit to their car.... It'll also survive a decent solar storm, unlike a GNSS system.

        One disadvantage is that it's essentially a regional system; it'd be tricky to provide a truly global system based on eLoran. So if one's motivation is partly adverturous overseas military operations, it's probably not the thing to go for.

        1. EveryTime Silver badge

          LORAN sucked. Big time. While a few might hold fond memories, most former users don't miss it in the least.

          Big wavelengths meant big antennas, poor resolution, and quirky propagation. Ground based stations multiplied the opportunities for reflected signals. Pretty much every use required the operator to have some understanding of propagation variations. Sometimes even a sophisticated education. Accuracy was poor, but repeatability was good. While the system could be used without maps, accurate use required charts with grid lines that corrected for the fixed component of errors.

          As proof that the system wasn't especially loved, most government service cannot be killed. Especially ones where the users have major equipment investments. LORAN died with barely a complaint.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            LORAN sucked. Big time.

            EveryTime,

            "Accuracy was poor, but repeatability was good."

            Does that mean the system was able to give the same order of 'wrong' answer when queried, most of the time. ???

            Is that a variation on a 'Stopped Clock' which is accurate twice a day ???

            :)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        As I understand it, Britain was trying to convince others in the EU to continue with eLoran but the French ended the argument by bringing down their eLoran towers with explosives - Britain gave up on the argument and decommissioned their eLoran not long afterwards. The Americans are looking at resurrecting their eLoran system, maybe in response to the recent Russian jamming of GPS during a NATO exercise in Norway. The Russians have a couple of terrestrial alternatives to GNSS, so jamming GPS and Galileo would make sense for their military.

      3. caffeine addict Silver badge

        Probably a damn sight cheaper though than chucking £5bn at a Brexit alternative though...

        Seriously, what the hell is the relevance of Brexit to this? Yes, there have been talks about brewing our own GPS-alike, but nothing else in this story has been about Brexit. It doesn't have to be brought in to every comments thread...

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          "It doesn't have to be brought in to every comments thread..."

          Haven't you listened to / read / watched the news recently? It's like nothing else has happened in the last three years.

          Seriously, Brexit is the answer to everything these days. It's why England won the cricket (according to the ugly tit that keeps spouting bollocks). I thought it was due to a technicality, but he's more important than me so... There you go. Brexit won cricket. Brexit broke the satellites. Brexit...

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            @heyrick

            "Seriously, Brexit is the answer to everything these days."

            Either that or climate change. I am even seeing people post about a 'climate emergency' in all seriousness! Maybe this is the first world problems thing pushed further. We are so comfortable with so little to fear that we start attributing fear to everything.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "according to the ugly tit that keeps spouting bollocks"

            Error - integer overflow in counter.

  12. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Coat

    Total Inability To Suggest Ur Position?

    I'll find my coat

  13. adam 40 Bronze badge
    Pint

    N.I.G.E.L.

    Acronym for the Brexit statellites:

    Navigation In Geodesic Ellipsoid Location

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

      Re: N.I.G.E.L.

      F. A.R.A.G.E

      Finding

      All

      Ranges

      Affecting

      Geodesic

      Ellipsoid

  14. codejunky Silver badge

    Meh

    Good luck to them getting it back up and running

  15. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Angel

    Galileo is obviously being silenced...

    By the Vatican's assertion that the Earth is at the center of the Universe!

  16. Hotears

    Let's start a ficitcious betting pool. And since I get to go first, I pick 'Windows+CryptoLocker'.

    1. Glen 1 Bronze badge

      Ooo ooo ooh! I bet heartbleed and spectre/meltdown

      1. STOP_FORTH
        Trollface

        ASCII alphasort of numbers without leading zeros and UNIX versus Windows linefeeds.

        I like this game.

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          strcpy() used instead of strncpy() . . . with Predictable Outcome.

          1. Khaptain Silver badge

            The Iranian or Isreali in me thinks Stuxnet Fork

            1. adam 40 Bronze badge
  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We live in a society

    exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology...We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces. -- Carl Sagan

    1. fandom

      Re: We live in a society

      Carl would be the first to tell you not to believe a quote just because it comes from someone with percieved authority

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: We live in a society

        He'd tell you to check it out, and in this case you'd find out he was right.

        1. fandom

          Re: We live in a society

          No, that quote can't really be checked, it says 'sooner or later', so it can't only be checked after the collapse.

          Like all good prophecies from omens throughout history it is intentionally vague, if 5000 years from now civilization insists on not collapsing, well, he said 'sooner or later' so it may just be going to happen.

          Also, like all good prophecies, it makes the point of making the rubes, in this case educated rubes, on the receiving end feel superior so they will repeat it.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: We live in a society

            I fail to see how a society dependent on technology with relatively few people having technological expertise could work in the long term.

            1. bazza Silver badge

              Re: We live in a society

              I fail to see how a society dependent on technology with relatively few people having technological expertise could work in the long term.

              Well, that's they way we're heading. I agree, it won't work. Universities used to teach subjects like silicon chip design. Now they don't. There's really only a few people in the world who really know what they're doing in silicon engineering, and they're either from Taiwan, Japan or (less so these days) the USA, but increasingly from China.

              How many people are taught C/C++ these days? Not many. So who's going to write the operating systems?

              The scary thing is that nations like China believes in the value of proper engineering educations in all fields. Increasingly it'll be countries like that which will innovate, whilst the rest of the world stagnates.

              1. doublelayer Silver badge

                Re: We live in a society

                It was always this way. At nearly every point in history, the vast majority of humans would not be able to sustain the loss of the technology they used. In the 1950s, only a small subset of people could get electricity running again if power plants stopped existing. They'd have to build generators, obtain fuel from somewhere, and find some method of cleaning up the power so their electrical devices would be able to run on it. Even as we move back in history and technology becomes simpler, this continues to be the case. Do you think a medieval farmer, though undoubtedly skilled in agriculture in a way we modern humans are not, could get a plow together at that point? Of course they could, if they already had the necessary technology. Could they if they first had to manufacture an axe to get the lumber and the metalworking tools the blacksmith had using only things found in the natural world? I wouldn't count on it.

                Fewer people study silicon design, but that doesn't matter much. If we ended up in a disaster scenario, even if we had all the silicon designers available, we'd also have to have the people who build the machines that manufacture chips, and the people who power those machines, and the people who get the raw materials out of the ground, and the people who purify the materials after they got out of the ground, and the people who build the machines for that, and the people to ensure all the aforementioned people don't die due to starvation, disease, or environmental factors (temperature, something toxic, etc).

                Similarly, I was taught C and C++. I consider myself somewhat skilled at writing in them. I've written things at the operating system level. I've been employed writing in those languages. Could I, alone, develop an OS? Not a chance. I'd need to read a lot about how the real OS developers have done things so I could copy their ideas. And could I do that if I had to start from scratch? Even less of a chance. I haven't written a C compiler, and I haven't ever really connected to one.

                Most disasters don't destroy everything. Even if a small area was preserved while the rest of the world was obliterated, there would be technology from before the disaster in that area if there were humans there. They would have to rebuild a lot of stuff, but they would do it on the back of the tech that existed before. And there's a reason turns of phrase like "blasted back to the stone age" exist, because they'd have to reinvent several wheels. But this was always the case. There was never some miraculous time when the majority knew what they were doing technologically that we've thrown away.

                1. Tom 7 Silver badge

                  Re: We live in a society

                  Every now and then i wonder about the Carrington Event in 1859. I'm fairly certain if that happened today we would see the end of civilisation as we know it. What we need is a backup system something on the lines of RaspberryPis with mesh networking over shortwave and wifi , a solar panel, battery and a large disk with as much info on how to switch the world back on in it.

          2. Citizen99

            Re: We live in a society

            The Omens are Good.

            Agnes Nutter was pretty accurate, making allowances for changes in the low-level detail over time.

  18. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    <MODE="bewildered"> There's a market for sat-nav mags? </MODE>

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      Of course there is! They're full of useful How to Build a GNSS tips.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      It;s the guest publication on the next episode of Have I Got News For You!

    3. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      Rule 34.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Figaro

    Because the UI was obviously designed by the Evil One Himself.

  20. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Who Me or BOFH?

    I can imagine some poor Engineer going out to a GPS ground station to see why it's not working then finding that its ground coordinates come from GPS. Saves time in not having to type them all in, of course.

  21. david 12 Bronze badge

    Won't make any difference in the USA

    ...because regional settings disable use of Galileo in the USA. This has irritated some users "WTF? Galileo satellites disappear when I return to America?". I guess this takes some of the pressure off to fix/clarify regulatory restrictions.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Won't make any difference in the USA

      I think the word you're looking for is "protectionism".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Won't make any difference in the USA

        Heyrick,

        "I think the word you're looking for is "protectionism"."

        Just say 'MAGA' and we will get what you mean (fewer letters too and if anyone forgets how to spell it ..... you can simply read BillyBob's hat) !!!!

        :)

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The problem appears to be related to a facility on the ground that generates the time used by the satellites to provide position information. The satellites themselves have their own clocks, but there have a been a number of issues with some of those on orbit. Those should be synchronised with ground-based atomic clocks, and without that synchronisation any location data would be unreliable."

    When you think about the fact atomic clocks in those sats are not precise enough for the service, because the position service relies on radio transmission timings, and you need to re-sync those sats clocks from the ground, and cope with the delays of course, which vary, depending on position of said sats, you realize operating such infra is a bloody challenge.

    Kuddos to the US for having this running glitchless for so long !

    PS: I know for a fact ESA had no idea how to operate this, back in 2013. Maybe now, they have. Or not.

  23. herman Silver badge
    FAIL

    Freddy Mercury really should have added a few more Galileos.

    1. STOP_FORTH
      Thumb Down

      No, no, no, no, no, no, no!

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