20 Jan 2011   |   News

Galileo satellite navigation system will need €1.9B to complete

Additional funding is needed to complete the infrastructure of Europe's satellite navigation project, says the European Commission in a progress report.

The European Union still needs to find funding of €1.9 billion between 2014 and 2020 to complete the infrastructure of the Galileo satellite navigation system, the Commission said as it gave a progress report on the current stage of the project running from 2007 – 2013, into which it is sinking with €3.4 billion.

Once it is up and running the operational costs of Galileo and EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service, which boosts the GPS signals at a regional level) together are estimated at further €800 million per annum.

The satellite navigation system is now expected to deliver will initial services in 2014, following recent progress, including the signing of four major contracts and the testing of the first four operational satellites. The Commission said there has also been considerable progress with the EGNOS programme, which is intended to increase the accuracy of signals from Galileo and other global positioning systems.

The Commission intends to press ahead, saying that the promotion of civil satellite navigation technology is in line with Europe’s 2020 strategy and contributes to sustainable economic development. “Galileo will allow Europe to compete in the global space technology market,” said European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship. “We are satisfied with the progress made so far and committed to bringing this project to fruition.”

According to Commission estimates, the global satellite navigation applications market is expected to be worth €240 billion by 2020 and has been growing at a rate of 30 per cent in the past few years. It is estimated that currently 6-7 per cent of the GDP of developed countries, or a total of  €800 billion in Europe, depends on satellite navigation.

EGNOS became operational on 1 October 2009 and the Commission says the increased accuracy of satellite navigation is providing benefits in agriculture, rescue operations, geo-localisation and cartography, and it will soon also be used in civil aviation.

Galileo progress report

Meanwhile, the Galileo in-orbit validation phase is well underway with the two experimental satellites Giove A and Giove B securing the frequencies and validating the reliability of the technology. The building of the first four operational satellites, which are part of the in-orbit validation phase and will be launched in 2011–2012, is nearing completion as is the creation of the associated ground based infrastructure, including the ground control centres in Fucino, Italy, and Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.

Work to install Galileo has been divided into six lots, with the first four lots - engineering support, construction of the satellites (with an order placed for 14), launch services and operations - all allocated in 2010 for roughly €1.25 billion. The final two lots of business, which concern ground infrastructure, will be awarded in 2011.

Three initial services will be available in 2014 based on an initial constellation of 18 satellites: an open Service, a public regulated service and an initial Search And Rescue Service.

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