The EU’s new space-based navigation system Galileo will begin operating in 2014. The European Commission has also said the project intended to rival the US global positioning system “will adjust or correct the GPS signal and make it more accurate”.
An order worth 566 million euros has been awarded to German company OHB to build 14 satellites. It is currently bidding against German rival EADS-Astrium for the right to provide remaining units.
Ultimately, Galileo is designed to have 32 satellites.
An 85 million euro contract goes to Franco-Italian group Thales Alenia Space to provide support services for Europe’s biggest space programme.
Arianespace of France will be paid 397 million euros to launch satellites on board Soyuz rockets from French Guiana starting in October 2012.
Brussels said Europe was also “working with the Chinese and other partners”.