Galileo: first satellite launch
Date: Thu, 10/20/2011 - 09:45
The launch of the first two Galileo navigation satellites from Kourou, French Guiana, will be celebrated by the European Parliament and Commission today, on Parliament's Solidarność 1980 esplanade, and broadcast live from Brussels
The two satellites, for use by the Galileo open civilian navigation system; will be launched onto a 23,600 km high orbit from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. They are the first in a series that will enable Galileo to begin supplying services in 2014.
Once operational, Galileo will be available for use in transport, search and rescue operations, public works, oil prospection, agriculture, or everyday life, e.g. for car navigation or mobile phones.
The programme really got under way, after a slow start, only when the Parliament, Council and the Commission struck a deal in 2008 to include funding for it in the EU's long-term budget.
Galileo lift off: EU satellite navigation is becoming a reality
Between now and 2014 another 16 satellites will follow, thus making the system operational. The full constellation will consist of 30 satellites providing accurate navigation to travellers, ships, aeroplanes, search and rescue services and other users around the globe.
The Galileo programme got off to a slow start, with many delays after 1999, when EU leaders gave the go-ahead to develop a system to make Europe independent in satellite navigation. The real kick off was possible only when the Parliament, Council and the Commission struck a deal in 2008 to include funding for the programme in the EU's long-term budget.
The new satellite navigation system is expected to deliver €60 billion to the European economy over 20 years in additional revenues for industry and public and social benefits, not counting the benefit of technological independence.
Official launch today
The ceremony, starting at 11.00h, will be followed by speeches by Commission President José Manuel Barroso, and EP Industry, Research and Energy Committee chair Herbert Reul (EPP, DE).
An interactive exhibition area will offer the opportunity to meet engineers in charge of the Galileo programme.