“Space can do a lot for European citizens. Our global satellite
navigation system Galileo is now only a step away from taking wing and fly
high”, said Antonio Rodotà, the Director General of the European Space
Agency, welcoming the conclusions of the European Council held on 15 and
16 March in Barcelona, and echoing the appreciation expressed by the ESA
Council, the governing body of the Agency, gathered in Paris for its 156th
meeting today and to morrow.

The European Council met in Barcelona for its second annual Spring meeting
to take stock of the economic, social and environmental situation in the
Union. In the field of transport, the Heads of State or Government
welcomed the progress on Galileo and asked the Transport council,
scheduled to gather on 25-26 March in Brussels, to take the necessary
decision regarding both the funding and launching of this programme,
developed with ESA on a 50-50 fund sharing basis.

The Galileo satellite navigation system, constituted a major topic for
decision at the European Space Agency’s ministerial Council in Edinburgh
last November. In that occasion, the ministers in charge for space
activities in Europe agreed funding for the Galileo development and
in-orbit validation phase, subject to the EU Transport Council to approve
the Galileo programme.

When meeting on 7 December 2001, the EU transport Council could not
immediately reach final agreement on the implementation modalities.
However, the Heads of State at their summit meeting in Laeken, Belgium,
reaffirmed the strategic importance they attached to the Galileo programme
and welcomed the decision of the European Space Agency taken in Edinburgh,
inviting the EU Transport Council to take a decision in March 2002.
Subsequently, also the European Parliament expressed a favorable opinion
on the continuation of the programme.

Meanwhile, an interim structure dubbed GISS -for Galileo Interim Support
Structure- and consisting of some 30 highly qualified international staff
located in Brussels, has been put in place to ensure that the technical
development of Galileo is coherent with the user requirements. The
preparatory development activities have been intensified over the last few
months with the European space industry, but also with the application and
service industries.

Critical technologies, such as atomic clocks and signal generators to be
implemented on board the 30 satellites of the Galileo system, are under
development and work is progressing as planned. The Galileo ground segment
architecture has been further refined with a view to minimise the
implementation and operations cost. Moreover, the activities on the
Galileo system test-bed will start soon.

Note to Editors:

Developed by ESA in co-operation with the European Union, Galileo will be
Europe’s own global satellite navigation system, providing a highly
accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control. It
will be inter-operable with GPS and GLONASS, the two other global
satellite navigation systems. A user will be able to take a position with
the same receiver from any of the satellites in any combination. By
offering dual frequencies as standard, however, Galileo will deliver
real-time positioning accuracy down to the metre range, which is
unprecedented for a publicly available system, and will inform users
within seconds of a failure of any satellite. This will make it suitable
for applications where safety is crucial, such as running trains, guiding
cars and landing aircraft.

The fully deployed Galileo system consists of 30 satellites (27
operational + 3 active spares), positioned in three circular medium Earth
orbit planes at 23616 km altitude above the Earth, and at an inclination
of the orbital planes of 56 degrees with reference to the equatorial
plane. The Galileo navigation signals will provide a good coverage even at
latitudes up to 75 degrees north, which corresponds to the North Cape, and
beyond. The large number of satellites together with the optimisation of
the constellation, and the availability of the three active spare
satellites, will ensure that the loss of one satellite has no discernible
effect on the user.

For further information;

ESA Media Relations Office, Paris- France

Tel. +33 1 5369 7155

Fax. + 33 1 5369 7690