The European Space Agency has whittled down to 11 the number of industrial groups invited to compete for contracts to get Europe’s satellite-navigation system, Galileo, into orbit. They are Italian, Dutch, French, British and German.
Much delayed because private investment interest evaporated, the project has become entirely publicly funded. The European Commission has found more than two billion euros out of communal budget funds.
Galileo now aims to launch its 30 satellites by the end of 2013. This is supposed to give Galileo users far more precision that the current American GPS coverage offers. Europe has already spent 1.6bn euros on Galileo.