BBC: Galileo, Europe’s much delayed and costly satellite-navigation project, takes a major step forward on Thursday.
The first contracts are being awarded to the companies that will start to build the operational network.
The European Commission will purchase spacecraft, rockets and system management in deals totalling more than half a billion euros.
Galileo is intended as an EU version of the US Global Positioning System (GPS), but with significant improvements.
Its more advanced technology should give users quicker, more reliable fixes, and enable them to locate their positions with an error of one metre compared with the current GPS error of several metres.
European Commission vice-president with responsibility for transport, Antonio Tajani, is expected to announce the winners of the contracts in a media conference in Brussels at about midday.
One recipient is already known because it was the only bidder for the tendered work.