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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee