Magazine article Europe-East

Satellite Navigation: Galileo Still Grounded as Funding Blocked

Magazine article Europe-East

Satellite Navigation: Galileo Still Grounded as Funding Blocked

Article excerpt

One ESA source said that, given this "serious blockage", the Agency is now considering a Plan B which would enable it to sign a contract in November so as to avoid interrupting work on verification satellites. The fear is that the programme would once again be put on hold if the manufacture of these satellites were to be interrupted. A further ESA Board meeting is scheduled for the end of October.

Besides two test satellites, scheduled for launch before June 2006, pursuit of the Galileo programme will involve the placing in orbit of four satellites currently being designed in the context of what is dubbed the system's In Orbit Verification (IOV) phase. This phase will precede the deployment phase for the entire infrastructure (launch of a further 26 satellites) and a contract for its roll-out has already been signed by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Galileo Industries, a consortium of Europe's leading aerospace groups. However, the available budget - about euro 1 billion - has proved inadequate and Galileo Industries has called for a euro 400 million extension.

Whilst the European Commission, which co-finances the programme alongside the ESA, has already agreed to provide "its" share (euro 200 million), matters are not proceeding as smoothly within the ESA itself. Finland, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom have so far refused to allow a vote on the issue of additional funding. Finland has problems over the participation of Finnish industries in the programme, while the other three member states are fighting to secure the headquarters of the programme's control centre. …

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