Brussels has cast doubt on a report that a prestigious figure in the space industry called Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system a ‘dumb’ idea.
The board of German company OHB Technology has sacked Berry Smutny as CEO, over his alleged remarks. He says he said no such thing.
But the Norwegian newspaper Aftenpost said that is the information it got from WikiLeaks, the alternative online publisher.
Aftenpost’s story is that Smutny told US diplomats in Berlin in October: “Galileo is a stupid idea that primarily serves French interests.”
OHB has a contract to develop 14 satellites for Galileo, which intends to challenge American GPS dominance, run from the Pentagon.
European Commissioner for Industry Antonio Tajani said: “He said he believed in Galileo, and then after this incident he sent a letter saying so. You know, WikiLeaks isn’t the Bible.”
A leaked diplomatic cable in question said that, according to Smutny, strong French lobbying in favour of the civil Galileo system was so French missile guidance would not be yoked to GPS.
A Czech former cosmonaut, Vladimir Remek, now in the European Parliament, told euronews: “China, Japan, India, the USA or Russia, already have developed or are developing these systems. If Europe wants to stay competitive, it must definitely go on with Galileo.”
Tajani said funding for the project was in place until 2014. Officially priced at 3.4 billion euros, with over-runs Galileo is rumoured to be pushing 20 billion euros.