Space: July 31, 2003

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A European is going forward with it's own version of GPS, called Galileo. The first satellite is to be launched in 2004. By 2006, four satellites will be in orbit as a test system. If there are no problems with the test system, the full array of 27 satellites will be launched and operational by 2008. The system will cost nearly $3 billion when completed, and the fifteen nations of the European Space Agency (ESA) have put in about a hundred million dollars already. The Europeans don't like being dependent on an American system, and don't believe the Russians will be able to keep their GLONASS system viable. If Galileo becomes operational, the European nations will pay for it, but anyone can use it. Dual signal (GPS and Galileo) receivers won't cost much more (maybe 20 percent more) than GPS receivers do. Having two separate sets of signals makes for more reliable and accurate receivers. Also, the way Galileo is being set up, it will provide improved reliability in higher latitudes and in built up areas. The ESA is trying to develop a way to get people to pay for additional Galileo services, but so far no one has come up with anything that seems likely to work. 

 


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