Brussels, 9 November 2005
During a ceremony organised by the European Space Agency and the Dutch government at the European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk, the first GALILEO satellite was officially baptised “GIOVE” (Galileo In Orbit Validation Element). This first satellite, built by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, will be launched by a Soyouz rocket from the Baïkonour space centre during the latter half of December 2005. It will transmit all Galileo signals. Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of transport, declared: “This is a big step in the history of Galileo. The in-orbit validation phase of the programme will now truly begin with the launch of this first satellite”.
Following GIOVE, a second satellite, built by the consortium GALILEO Industries, should be launched in spring 2006. These first two satellites will enable the verification of the function of key technology and provide essential measurements of the operational environment for the GALILEO constellation.
The launch of these first two satellites will be followed by the launch, in 2008, of the first four operational GALILEO satellites.
GALILEO is Europe's satellite radio navigation programme. It was launched on the initiative of the European Commission and developed in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA). It heralds the advent of a technological revolution similar to the one launched by mobile phone technology. It will also enable the development of a new generation of universal services in areas such as transport, telecommunication, agriculture or fisheries. To date, this technology, which promises to be highly profitable, is only mastered by the United States’ GPS system and Russia's GLONASS system, both of which are financed and controlled by military authorities. The GALILEO programme will be civilian-administered and controlled and offers a guarantee of quality and continuity which is essential for many sensitive applications. Its complementarity with current systems will increase the reliability and availability of navigation and positioning services worldwide.
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