|Galileo Update|| |
European Commission (EC) Vice President Antonio Tajani has announced that sufficient savings have been found in Europe’s Galileo sat-nav project for at least six additional spacecraft to be bought for the system before 2014.The EC says it has about 500m euros (£440m) “in its pocket” which it will use to make the extra purchase. It would take Europe’s version of GPS from 18 operational satellites in the next few years to 24. EU member states had already committed 3.4bn euros to get 18 satellites into orbit by the end of 2014, and were told recently they might have to find a further 1.9bn to get a completed “constellation” of 30 satellites later in the decade.
The final two contracts, out of six, for Galileo will be signed by the European Space Agency on behalf of the European Commission at the prestigious Le Bourget Aerospace Fair in Paris. The combined valued of the two contracts is EUR 355 million. The contract signed with Thales Alenia Space (FR), for a value of EUR 281 million, ensures the formatting of navigation information for broadcast by the satellites. The contract signed with Astrium (UK), for a value of EUR 73.5 million concerns the “housekeeping” of the satellites including the maintenance and correct positioning of the satellites in orbit.
Nine year old Natalia from Bulgaria will have her name on one of the first two operational Galileo satellites to be launched on 20th October as she has won the Bulgarian part of the Galileo children’s drawing competition. The European Commission is running the Galileo drawing competition for children in each of the Member States. Natalia has been presented with a trophy, to represent the satellite that will be named after her, at a special awards ceremony at the European Commission Representation in Sophia.
Experts attending the INTERGEO Round Table in Karlsruhe, Germany, made it clear that for Galileo is essential for European countries. The unanimous conclusion was that Europe must be independent of other GNSS systems such as GPS and GLONASS if it is to safeguard its future as a hub for research and business. It was unanimously agreed that if the entire spectrum of application fields is to be fully utilised, there will need to be more communication and cooperation, not least between satellite navigation and geo-information.