The on again, off again global navigation system Galileo took a big step forward with the announcement by the European Commission (EC) and the European Space Agency (ESA) that that procurement of the nuts and bolts of the system is going forward. The goal is to have the planned 30 satellites as well as the ground control facilities up and running by 2013.
Doubt over the program's future arose over questions of who would help pay for it. Private companies balked at the high cost and questioned the necessity of another satellite navigation system. So last year the EC agreed to come up with the money.
Under the agreement the EC is the overall program manager and reserves contracting authority while the ESA acts as its procurement and design agent.
The move puts Europe back in the satellite navigation race against the U.S. the Russians, and possibly the Chinese. Currently only the U.S. has a fully operational global system.