European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship Ferdinando Nelli Feroci, commented: "This agreement involves the marriage of launchers and satellites engineered and built in Europe, a move towards the independence of the European Union’s space sector.”
The EU's satellite navigation programme Galileo signed a €500 million agreement with Arianespace which will bring an operational Galileo service much closer.
The agreement to provide three Ariane-5 launchers will reduce the EU's use of external parties for placing its Galileo satellites into orbit - another step on the road to the EU's goal to secure independent access to space. As the launchers are manufactured in the EU this is also a win for European business. The Ariane-5 launcher will carry four satellites at a time into orbit, twice the capacity of the current launchers and will start to be used in 2015. The number of launches needed for the full set of satellites required for commercial operations will therefore decrease.
Galileo is the programme of the European Union to develop a global satellite navigation system under European civilian control. Galileo signals will allow users to know their exact position in time and space with greater precision and reliability than with the currently existing systems. Galileo will be compatible with and, for some of its services, interoperable with existing similar systems, but will be autonomous. By 2020 the Commission aims to have the full constellation of 30 Galileo satellites in operation.