Europe's global satellite navigation system, Galileo, became a reality on Friday with the launch of its two first operational satellites on a Soyuz rocket from the European Space station in Kourou, French Giuana.
The programme really got under way, after a slow start, when European Parliament
and Council struck a deal in 2008 to include funding for it in the EU's long-term
European Parliament President Jerz Buzek said "Today marks a milestone for Europe.
Having our own state of the art space policy and technology is of strategic
importance to the EU. It is high time that Europe becomes independent from other
systems and thus strengthens its competitiveness and self-sufficiency".
Herbert Reul (EPP, DE), Chair of the European Parliament's Industry, Research and
Energy Committee, said: "This moment is so important to us, Europeans. First, the
two satellites are the starting point for a navigation network that has an
enormous economic potential: Galileo is expected to generate economic and social
benefits worth around €60-90 billion over the next 20 years. Second, Galileo
is a truly European project; no Member States could have developed it alone.
Third, it will improve Europeans' safety, daily lives and comfort. And finally,
this launch demonstrates our determination to overcome political and financial
difficulties. Since the European Parliament and the Council decided in 2008 to
complete Galileo using the EU budget, we made much progress. The challenge now is
to ensure sufficient funding in the future. Galileo must be operational as quickly
as possible, we cannot risk losing ground to our global competitors".
Norbert Glante (S&D, DE), rapporteur on Public Regulated Services (PRS), one of
the services to be provided by Galileo once it is operational, said: "We had to
wait a long time to see this day. The launch is a positive signal and shows that
the Galileo project is progressing. It is the first time that satellites are
launched with a Russion launcher from the European Space Port in Kourou. This
shows that international cooperation works. But I also would like to see European
Ariane launchers being used in the future. From 2014, we will have the first
Aldo Patriciello (EPP, IT) author of a report on EU space strategy to be voted in
the Industry, Research and Energy Committee at the end of November, said "Galileo
is the first satellite navigation system in the world designed for civilian use,
and will enable the European Union to remain independent in a strategically
important field. Galileo will combine the best atomic clock ever flown for
navigation - accurate to one second in three million years - with a powerful
transmitter to broadcast precise navigation data worldwide. Furthermore, Galileo
is designed to be fully interoperable with GPS and the Russian Glonass systems".