Software errors cause Euro GPS to get lost

gallioEurope’s global positioning satellite project is not off to a good start after software was blamed for placing the satellites in the wrong orbit.

It does not bode well when a software project which is supposed to help Europeans find themselves to within 10 feet, can’t place its own satellites in the correct orbit, but that is exactly what has happened.

To be fair, the problem was not with the European Union’s Galileo satellites but  software errors in the Fregat-MT rocket’s upper-stage.

According to a Russian newspaper Izvestia a nonstandard operation of the integrated management system was likely caused by an error in the embedded software. As a result, the upper stage received an incorrect flight assignment, and, operating in full accordance with the embedded software, it has delivered the units to the wrong destination.

Both the upper-stage and the software for it were developed by a Moscow-based government-owned corporation, the Academician Pilyugin Scientific-production Centre of Automatics and Instrument-Making, or the Academician Pilyugin Centre.

The Arianespace satellite launch company, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscosmos are currently investigating the incident.  It just seems a pity that the Europeans did not have a rival to the Russian or American mapping systems.