Positioning and satellite navigation have long since become part of every-day life. This is despite the fact that utilization of this technology was subject to military restrictions for many years. As a result, these applications have only been widely available for civilian use since the beginning of the new millennium. For a long time, the internationally well-known American Global Position System (GPS) was the only system available. Developed in the mid seventies for the US Ministry of Defense, the system reached full functional capacity in the mid nineties. However, the signal was deliberately interfered with (selective availability = SA) to prevent non-authorized uses from accessing precise positioning data. The SA was only deactivated in May 2000 in a move which ushered in the widespread use of mobile navigation devices for all types of vehicles as well as positioning via mobile telephones.
However, as GPS is still not a solely civilian system and is a US monopoly, the governments of the major space travel nations Russia, China and Europe have set themselves the goal of developing systems of their own. Russia already has the GLONASS system althought it is still being used solely for military purposes. China has already launched 13 satellites for its COMPASS system and Europe plans to launch its own system to be known as GALILEO* from 2015 onwards with at first 26 satellites. OHB System is building 22 satellites.