Europe News: Bickering puts the brakes on Galileo

Europe News:  Bickering puts the brakes on Galileo

The European Commission may take control of the Galileo satellite system, since the consortium members charged with moving the project along appear to have made little progress.

The fundamental problem is that the consortium members – EADS, Thales, Inmarsat, Alcatel-Lucent, Finmeccanica, AENA, Hispasat, and TeleOp – have been too busy squabbling to actually come up with a plan to get the system up and running.

Of the thirty satellites in the system, only one has been launched – in December 2005.

EU governments have argued over division of workload and funding, with Toulouse, London, Barcelona, Munich and Rome all wanting to host the Galileo headquarters. In December 2005, the Council decided to split Galileo’s HQ between France and the UK.

The costs of setting up the system are estimated at to be around €4 billion, but by May last year, the project was already €400 million over-budget.

Now, however, the EC proposes that the public sector – i.e. EU taxpayers – picks up the tab for Galileo.

To read more about this issue, see the BBC news website.

Meanwhile, last week GIOVE-A successfully transmitted its first navigation message, containing the information needed by user receivers to calculate their position. Prior to reaching this milestone, the satellite had been broadcasting only the data needed for measuring the receiver-to-satellite distance.

The first Galileo navigation message was created by the navigation signal generator unit on board GIOVE-A, using content prepared by the GIOVE Mission Segment.

One navigation message was uplinked to GIOVE-A on May 2nd from the Guildford ground station operated by Surrey Satellite Technology (UK) and then transmitted from the spacecraft to the users.

The objective of the test was to demonstrate an end-to-end link between the Mission Segment and the user receivers. The navigation message is being generated for demonstration purposes only – no service guarantee is provided.

While this is a positive step, it doesn’t look like Galileo has much chance of becoming operational until 2012 – a year past the scheduled date.

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