EU launches its first satellite navigation system

 

A Russian rocket launched the first two satellites of the European Union's Galileo navigation system after years of waiting for the start of the program billed as the main rival to the ubiquitous American GPS network.

The launch of the Soyuz from French Guiana, on the northern coast of South America, marks the maiden voyage of the Russian rocket outside the former Soviet Union, with European and Russian authorities cheering at liftoff.



"It is a double-page spread in spatial history, European and Russian," said Laurent Wauquiez, France's higher education minister and former deputy minister for European affairs. "It is without doubt one of the most beautiful stories of cooperation... This gives us strength and an extraordinary competitive advantage in the spatial domain."



Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said it is the first time that two teams work together on the launch of the Soyuz.



The rocket is expected to place into orbit the Galileo IOV-1 PFM and FM2 satellites during a nearly four-hour mission. The two satellites will be released in opposite directions.



"The first part of this mission went well," Jean-Yves Le Gall, chairman and CEO of Arianespace, the commercial arm of the European Space Agency, said in a brief statement to officials before returning to the control room.



He said the rocket is expected to travel over Asia, Indonesia and the Indian Ocean.



Antonio Tajani, the EU's industry and enterprise commissioner, called the launch "a great result" that sends "a very strong political message."



"Europe shows that she is capable of managing a big project just days from the European economic summit," he said.



The EU had all the pomp and speeches about the dawning of a new age prepared for Thursday, but was forced to postpone it for 24 hours because of a leaky valve that kept a Russian Soyuz rocket grounded at the launch site in French Guiana.



The Galileo system has become a symbol of EU infighting, inefficiency and delay, but officials are hoping it will kick off a trans-Atlantic competition with the American GPS network.



GPS has become the global consumer standard in satellite navigation over the past decade, reducing the need for awkward oversized maps and arguments with back seat drivers about whether to turn left or right.



Now, the EU wants Galileo to dominate the future with a system that is more precise and more reliable than GPS, while controlled by civil authorities. It foresees applications ranging from precision seeding on farmland to pinpoint positioning for search-and-rescue missions. On top of that, the EU hopes it will reap a financial windfall.



"If Europe wants to be competitive and independent in the future, the EU needs to have its own satellite navigation system to also create new economic opportunities", said Herbert Reul, head of the EU parliament's industry, research and energy committee.



There are still several more years to wait, but the satellite launch is a major step in getting Galileo on track. It will start operating in 2014 as a free consumer navigation service, with more specialized services to be rolled out until 2020, when it should be fully operational.



After the initial launch, two satellites will go up every quarter as of the end of 2012 until all 30 satellites are up.



The EU hopes its economic impact will stand at about €90 billion in industrial revenues and public benefits over the next two decades.



The idea for the program first rallied support in the late 1990s, and its development has been pushed back with delays ever since. When it became clear in 2008 that private investors weren't lining up to finance Galileo, the EU decided taxpayers would underwrite most of the program.



The European Commission said development and deployment since 2003 is estimated at well over €5 billion. Maintaining and completing the system is expected to cost €1 billion a year.



Critics have said the cost overruns were much higher.



"Far from celebrating," officials "who have supported Galileo should be making a public apology to taxpayers for this shocking waste of time, effort and resources," EU legislator Marta Andreasen of the anti-Euro UKIP party said.



Officials hope to delay the launch of the Russian Soyuz rocket by only 24 hours, although a new date will be announced once the investigation is complete, said Jean-Yves Le Gall, chairman and CEO of Arianespace, the commercial arm of the European Space Agency.



The launch was originally scheduled for last year, but adverse weather kept delaying construction of the Soyuz facility.

AP

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Life and Style
The spring/summer 2015 Louis Vuitton show for Paris Fashion Week
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?