Europe launches Galileo satellite

The first satellite in the European Union's Galileo satellite navigation programmeme was launched from Kazakhstan today, a major step forward for Europe's answer to the United States' Global Positioning System.

The test satellite, named "Giove A," took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz rocket on schedule at 11.19 am local time (0519 GMT). After the launch amid clear skies, the satellite was released into orbit and began transmitting signals, scientists said.

Journalists monitored the liftoff through a linkup at the headquarters of the European Space Agency, or ESA, in Paris.

The €3.4 billion (£2.3 billion) Galileo project will eventually use about 30 satellites and end the Europe's reliance on the GPS system, which is controlled by the US military.

Last year, US President George Bush ordered plans for temporarily disabling GPS satellites during national crises to prevent terrorists from using the navigational technology.

Galileo is under civilian control. The European Space Agency says it will guarantee operation at all times, except in case of "the direst emergency." It also says users would be notified of any potential satellite problems within seconds.

"Galileo is made in Europe by Europeans," ESA spokesman Franco Bonacina said. "If the Americans want to scramble GPS, they can do it whenever they want."

Galileo will also be more exact than GPS, with precision of up to one metre, compared with five metres with GPS technology, Bonacina said.

With Galileo, for example, rescue services will be able to tell ambulances which lane to use on a highway, he said.

The satellite launch was originally scheduled for 26 December but was delayed because of a technical problem in the ground station network.

In orbit, Giove A will test atomic clocks and navigation signals, secure Galileo's frequencies in space and allow scientists to monitor how radiation affects the craft.

A second satellite named "Giove B" - "Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element" - is to be placed in orbit this spring.

Several more satellites will be launched in 2008 to complete the testing phase, which requires at least four satellites in orbit to guarantee an exact position and time anywhere on earth.

Three non-EU nations - China, Israel and Ukraine - have also signed on to the programme set up by the European Commission and European Space Agency. Discussions are also under way with India, Morocco, South Korea, Norway and Argentina, the EU says.

Galileo will more than double GPS coverage, providing satellite navigation for people from motorists to sailors to mapmakers. In particular, Galileo is expected to improve coverage in high-latitude areas such as northern Europe.

Consumers are expected to be able to buy Galileo-ready receivers from 2008, and they will be able to switch back and forth between GPS and Galileo, similar to how people can change between cell phone networks now, Bonacina said. The Galileo system should be fully functional by 2010.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam