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made in Europe
This is why the European Commission proposed the ambitious Galileo project. This new navigation system for civil transport will be developed industrially with the Union's support and in close cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA), which, by 2008, should have sent a constellation of some 24 GalileoSat satellites into medium Earth orbit. The total investment is estimated at 2.7 billion euros.
"Four contracts providing global support of 37 million euros have already been signed with European industry," announces Mr Ruete. The largest - worth 29 million euros - is the GALA programme with more than 70 participants coordinated by Alcatel Space and focusing on the system's architecture and global specifications. The other three concern the definition of the service (GEMINUS), integration with EGNOS (INTEG) - see box - and standardisation (SAGA).
The Commission has also set up the GNSS-2 Forum (bringing together users, government bodies, universities and industry) to analyse the project's legal, institutional, technical, financial and security/defence aspects, as well as user needs, while ESA has embarked on the technical definition of the space component and ground-based systems, to be carried out by a consortium of 50 contractors, led by Alenia Aerospazio. Supervising these tasks will be a committee chaired by the Commission consisting of representatives from the Member States and ESA.
The development phase should start in 2001, partly financed by the EU Trans-European Networks for Transport programme and ESA, and partly by private and public-sector partners. The Commission is at present drawing up the framework conditions for such a partnership and, given the size of the investments, plans to create new sources of revenue, such as specific charges for certain specialised services.
See also the previous article on the new European space odyssey