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Friday, October 21, 2011
 Galileo Takes Off
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Message Text: 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 budget.

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 Galileo services".

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".
 
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