Paid for entirely by the European Commission – the price tag is currently around five billion euros, Galileo should provide better coverage and greater precision than its US rival GPS, thanks to more satellites, orbiting at a higher level.
Astrophysicist Dirk Frimout said Galileo is not about duplicating the American system: “Of course we have the American GPS but it is good to have more than one system in order to have more reliability plus there are so many applications the two systems will complement each other, rather than be in competition.”
GPS uses 24 satellites while Galileo expects to eventually have 30 in orbit some 23,000 kilometres up.
Another double launch is set to take place early in 2012. As soon as the four satellites are in place the all-important in-orbit validation phase can begin.