Since day one it has been a bumpy ride for Galileo, Europe's satellite navigation system. Wikileaks Cables caused Senior managers to be removed, the United States objected owing to fears of troops being attacked and the expanding list of GPS vulnerabilities has continued to grow. However, the project still continues. Although the budget has nearly tripled since its launch in 2003, the most recent price hike is needed to increase the number of spacecraft in orbit to 30.
According to EC Vice-President Antonio Tajani, "We do intend to move ahead because we believe in this project," he told reporters. "It is necessary to reach 30 satellites; I think it would be a mistake not to go ahead and launch the other satellites."
Whilst the initial starting contracts for 18 spacecraft have already been issued, the rest are due to be allotted sometime between 2014 and 2020. This budget increase will not only add additional satellites but also provide its users with greater availability and accuracy to within one metre, compared to the US GPS system which provides a location within several metres. There are also big implications for civilian aviation and for providing redundancy if the US Global Positioning Service or the Russian GLONASS systems are not available.
Although the service should be running by now, the EC's continued support and the future prospect of a hefty return on investments made in a multi-billion dollar industry means Galileo will finally be available to all by 2014.
Image Credit: ESA