The Independent: The European Commission kicked off plans this week for a rival to the United States’ global positioning system (GPS) with calls for suppliers for €3.4bn-worth of hi-tech space-technology deals.
The Galileo programme’s network of 30 satellites is designed to give Europe strategic independence from the US, steal a march on the nascent market for mobile location-based services and boost the region’s hi-tech and engineering sectors.
But squabbles in Brussels have already pushed the scheme years behind schedule and British MPs warned last year it could become an “orbiting RailTrack”. The five-year project is split into six parts, including hardware, complex ground-control and navigation systems and systems integration work. Key players that are likely to put themselves into the running include Thales Alenia Space, EADS Astrium and Logica, but the scheme could also attract non-European firms and Boeing has expressed some interest.
Notwithstanding predictions of disaster by the scheme’s opponents, Galileo is a superior technology. While the American system is accurate to 10 metres at best, and considerably less in built-up areas, Galileo can pinpoint down to a few centimetres. Richard Peckham, the business development director at EADS Astrium, said: “GPS started as a military system but a massive market has developed around it and US industry has reaped the benefits many times over.