Skip to main content
CNN EditionScience & Space
The Web     
Powered by
powered by Yahoo!

Euro GPS network gets green light

The Galileo network should be operational by 2008.
The Galileo network should be operational by 2008.

Story Tools

The 15 European Space Agency (ESA) members are: Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Canada has special status and participates in some projects under a cooperation agreement.

PARIS, France (CNN) -- European governments have given the final go-ahead for the launch of the Galileo satellite navigation network, Europe's answer to the U.S.-controlled Global Positioning System.

The long-delayed $3.6 billion (3.2 billion euro) system, Europe's biggest ever infrastructure project, will be based on 30 satellites and should be operational by 2008.

Final agreement on the network was reached Monday at a meeting in Paris of members of the European Space Agency (ESA).

Galileo will be used to improve traffic management on land, sea and in the air around the world, as well as aiding all forms of navigation and activities such as oil prospecting, scientific research and even hiking.

"This is a great day for Europe in general and its space community in particular," ESA director Antonio Rotota said in a statement. "Our member states have reached agreement in the common interest."

ESA says the Galileo program will give a much-needed boost to Europe's ailing space industry, creating about 140,000 jobs and "a 460 percent return on investment."

Unlike the American GPS system, Galileo will be under full civilian control.

One meter accuracy

The U.S. satellite network is controlled by the Pentagon, which can downgrade or totally disable non-military access during conflicts.

Galileo's civilian signal will also give locations accurate to within one meter (one yard) -- a significant improvement on that offered by the GPS system.

The U.S. regards Galileo as a challenge to its superiority in space technology and argues that it duplicates GPS.

Last year Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz warned that the European network would "significantly complicate our ability to ensure availability of critical military GPS services in a time of crisis, and at the same time assure that adversary forces are denied similar capabilities."

ESA is playing down any rivalry with the American system, saying in its statement Monday that Galileo would "complement" the GPS network.

The agency says devices for receiving Galileo's signals will be interoperable with equipment used on GPS and GLONASS -- the partially operable Russian-built network.

The first experimental Galileo satellite is due to be launched in 2004 and will act as a test bed for the network's systems.

When complete Galileo will comprise 30 satellites (27 operational and 3 spares) positioned in three circular orbits 23,616 kilometers (14,677 miles) above the Earth.

Story Tools
Subscribe to Time for $1.99 cover
Top Stories
Quake jitters hit California
Top Stories
CNN/Money: Security alert issued for 40 million credit cards

International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.