First Galileo satellites to be launched by end of 2005

EU transport ministers have agreed on the deployment and
operational phases of the European Global Navigation Satellite
System programmes.

EU transport ministers meeting in Brussels have agreed to
start the deployment and operational phases of the Galileo system
of navigation satellites. The system is expected to rival the
US-made GPS (Global Positioning System).

The first satellites are expected to be launched at the end of
2005 with a view to begin commercial operation “as from 2008”, the
Council said in a statement on 10 December. 

Deployment is due to take place between 2006 and 2008 and is
expected to cost 2.1 billion euros. A third of the sum will be
from public funds, with the rest coming from private
operators as previously agreed. After that comes the
operation and exploitation phase whose costs are estimated at 220
million euros a year.

“We are now in the home straight: next year will see the launch
of the first satellites,” said Transport Commissioner Jacques
Barrot. “Galileo will be as much of a technological revolution as
mobile telephony,” he added.

The final costs of the programme will be under close scrutiny
from EU countries who “shall not be obliged to contribute through
additional national funds”.

After a first contribution of 500 million euros from public
funds, costs are expected to be entirely covered by the private
sector.

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