European joint venture aims for the stars

27 Oct 2010

A joint European company has been awarded the contract to operate satellites that will enable the rollout of the Galileo sat-nav project.

The joint Italian-German undertaking will operate on the satellites under the name of SpaceOpal and is estimated to be worth around €194m.

The Euro contract is the fourth of six work packages to be announced as efforts are being made to roll out the Galileo sat-nav project.

European Commission vice-president Antonio Tajani, commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship said: “Galileo is becoming a reality. Europe will have its own independent satellite navigation system capable of high precision and reliability. We are fully committed to the roll-out of the system. Given the increased reliance of companies and citizens on satellite navigation, Galileo will play an important role in our daily lives. The award of the contract to SpaceOpal, a German-Italian joint venture, demonstrates clearly what can be achieved at a European level with significant economic benefits for industry and their partners”.

The contract, valued at €194 million, is signed by the European Space Agency (ESA) on behalf of the European Commission through a delegation agreement.

Alternative to GPS

The project is set to present itself as an alternative to the US NavStar (GPS) and the Russian Glonass. In late 2007, it was reported that the project would be delayed to 2014.

A further 14 operational satellites are expected to fly from late 2012.

SpaceOpal signed the contract with the ESA, and the company’s involvement will involve the day-to-day running of Galileo.