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Jan 14, 2006

European Space Agency To Go Forward With Next Phase Of Galileo

The European Space Agency (ESA) will sign a 950 million euros (about $1.15 billion) contract with Galileo Industries GmbH for the next phase of its Galileo navigation satellite program on January 19th, the agency announced yesterday.

The ESA says that the contract, "will pave the way for the operational deployment of Galileo." The ESA launched it's first satellite on a Russian rocket on December 28, of last year. That satellite is currently in its in-orbit validation phase. The ESA plans another launch this spring.

This new contract will give the European agency a total of four satellites, the minimum required to guarantee precise positioning and synchronisation. Following in-obit validation of those four, the agency plans to launch an additional 26 satellites for a total of 30 satellites. The Galileo program is intended to end Europe's reliance on, and offer a commercial alternative to, the American GPS system, which is currently the only system fully operational.