Do you remember Galileo, the EU alternative to the USA's global navigation satellite system
? Yes? Well, it needs more money...
Last week, on Monday 1st June, the European Parliament's Industry Research and Energy Committee (ITRE
) organised a question and answer session with the European Commission
to learn of current developments and the financial requirements of the Galileo project. From the informative discussion the message was clear: it is an important project but the funding is tough in such financial conditions.Herbert Reul
(EPP, DE), the committee's chair reminded the chamber that "economically and politically, investing in the completion of the Galileo system is a wise idea
", and that it would be "unwise to abandon the project halfway trough, as more and more economic applications are based on space-based positioning, such as applications in the transport, agricultural or construction sector.
As it stands, the current allocation of funds is sufficient to construct the first batch of 18 satellites
, but many say that 30 (27 plus three spares) are needed to guarantee global coverage to EU citizens.
In addition, they will need to be upgraded and maintained long-term, and as a result, the expected budget for these factors combined will reach some €750 million a year.
"The Commission must certainly pay attention to a professional handling of the financing of Galileo,
" Mr Reul warned, as "cost overruns in the order that we have seen in the past should absolutely be prevented.
Control centres are currently being built and the first satellites will be launched in 2011 with 18 satellites deployed by early 2014.