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Bremen firm wins EU's Galileo satellite deal

AFP/The Local · 7 Jan 2010, 20:06

Published: 07 Jan 2010 20:06 GMT+01:00

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The decision to pick the Bremen-based firm was a blow to European aerospace giant EADS, which led its own Galileo bidding group including Thales Alenia Space.

"With this and the upcoming awards for the remaining procurement packages, we are concluding a critical phase of the Galileo programme," said Antonio Tajani, the EU's transport commissioner. "We can now focus on the actual roll-out and demonstrate to European citizens that Europe’s own satellite navigation system is firmly underway."

The satellite network is meant to challenge the dominance of the US-built Global Positioning System (GPS) which is widely used in navigation devices. The EU aims to have the network up in space by 2013.

The EU has struggled to secure financing for the project, originally put at €3.4 billion ($5.4 billion), and has had to tap unused funds from the bloc's massive agricultural budget. The economic crisis has also cut the planned number of satellites from 26 to 22.

The project has been divided into six sections and on Thursday Brussels announced the winners of three contracts - satellite construction, launchers and support systems.

OHB, much smaller than rival Astrium, battled hard to secure the satellite contract and the two will do battle at a later stage for the remaining satellites.

According to the bidding rules, contracts for the satellites could run no higher than €680 million for all 14 of them.

Since the launch of the bidding process, EADS has taken over Surrey Satellite Technology so it will not be completely be left out in the cold.

Last year, the European Court of Auditors criticised the Galileo project as ill-prepared and badly managed.

Story continues below…

The Galileo Joint Undertaking, tasked with supervising the project's technological development activities, was set up in 2003 but scrapped in 2006. While test satellites have been launched none of Galileo's operational satellites have been put in space yet.

The project was the first close collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the commission on such a large space programme.

It was also the first industrial project to be managed at European level and the first time the commission was to participate in a public-private partnership scheme.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

04:22 January 8, 2010 by Edmond Schindler
Staggering numbers that are surely, sorely under valued of what will likely end up being nothing more than the most expensive EU undertaking. Costing EU citizens their hard earned, underpaid, sweat for the pleasure of claiming a second place, ego based position among positioning systems and space pollution.

Scrap or place a moratorium on the Space Programs, do something for energy production and housing. Put the Blue Collar worker back to work who are looking at devastation, inflation, depression and REAL daily issues like RENT, FOOD and FUEL costs! We already have GPS Navigation, use it, redirect OUR resources to the NEEDS of the people, not the Egos of the few!

I am appalled at the imbalance of the EU ego (EUGO) and the need to stroke it and the abhorrent suffering from neglect and Over Taxation the majority of the population of the EU must endure.

Damn this stuff makes me crazy mad!
09:21 January 8, 2010 by auniquecorn
Perfectly written Mr. Schindler.
15:50 January 8, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
The problem with the existing GPS infrastructure is that it has a kill switch. We also can't build weapons platforms based on it for that reason, plus the fact that the US can instantly toggle a different switch and make it significantly less accurate. As such, while this is largely played off as a publicity & ego thing, this is actually about ensuring our future ability to project power and ensure the defense of the European bloc, with or without the US.
17:18 January 8, 2010 by Celeon
OHB System may be smaller but they arent a newcomer.

The also built the SAR Lupe spy satellite system for the Bundeswehr.
13:35 January 9, 2010 by Frenemy
@Der Grenadier:

I will say two things (and I'm choosing my words VERY carefully)

Option 1 - re-key SAASM using "red" or "black" key

Option 2 - wait for m-code upgrades to come into effect ;-)

In any case I believe the Galileo constellation will be significantly more accurate than GPS (or "that" Russian system)
14:43 January 24, 2010 by D R Jones
The discussion on the Galileo project is the most intelligent I've ever viewed on this forum. You are all right to some degree. As a past manager with the U.S. compamy, Boeing, I have a great deal of experience with dealing with government systems. OHB Technology is technically compenent for the job, can they however control the massive incompentence of a government operation. That question will be answered once you see the massive cost overruns they'll experience as the Commission trys to micromanage projects they have no knowledge in. There are two sides to this coin. Having Galileo and GPS will only provide better global coverage and future systems expansion capabilities, on the other hand, would these funds be better directed toward improving the economic growth of the EU through broader economic application of these funds? This is a trade-off situtation. I suspect the EU like our current American government is thowing money into the air and hoping it helps someone on the ground. Great discussion guys!
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