The European GNSS Agency (GSA) has moved its headquarters from Brussels to Prague. This was an occasion for Petr Nečas, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, to visit the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen on 21 February 2013. DLR Executive Board member Professor Hansjörg Dittus welcomed the delegation, which was complemented by the Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer and the Bavarian Minister of Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Transportation and Technology, Martin Zeil.
Prime Minister Nečas took advantage of the visit to DLR to inform himself especially about the latest developments concerning the European satellite navigation system Galileo. A focal point of the program was accordingly the Galileo Control Center.
This control center is responsible for controlling the Galileo satellites and is operated by a DLR subsidiary on behalf of the European Commission, namely the DLR Gesellschaft für Raumfahrtanwendungen (GfR) mbH. Four out of a final total of 30 navigation satellites have been in earth orbit since October 2012. Autonomous position determination based solely on Galileo satellite signals is planned for first demonstration this spring.
In addition, GSA monitors another satellite-based navigation project in Prague – EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service). This augmenting system increases the position accuracy of GPS satellite navigation for European locations and provides integrity information for security applications. Linking EGNOS and Galileo would bring advantages in the areas of operational reliability and cost effectiveness.
Another part of the program in Oberpfaffenhofen dealt with the subject of civil protection at the Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information (ZKI). Experts at ZKI provide on request up-to-date satellite-based maps for natural and environmental disasters, humanitarian aid activities, and civil security needs worldwide. Because it is embedded in a research environment, this EOC service facility can immediately apply the latest research results.
The Czech and Bavarian delegation of ministers was also interested in DLR’s current atmosphere and climate research. The research flight department was able to present Europe’s most modern research airplane, HALO (High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft). Based on a business jet, this aircraft has been customized for science missions. HALO makes it possible for scientists to make comprehensive and unique measurements of the atmosphere. Valuable insights for climate and environmental protection can be obtained from these new data sets.