EC earmarks $9.4b satellite rescue fund

Michael Carroll
01 Dec 2011

The European Commission will pump €7 billion ($9.4 billion) into its Galileo and European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) satellite programs over the next eight years, as it seeks to end doubts over the future of the projects.

Additional funding will ensure the financial stability of the projects, Commission vice president of industry and entrepreneurship Antonio Tajani states. However, the Commission is also hinting the full benefits of the constellations will only be achieved if deployment and operation of the birds is handled by the European Space Agency and European GNSS Agency respectively.

Tajani says the increased knowledge in-house management of the satellite navigation systems will bring ““will significantly support European industry in these difficult times.” The Commission has previously estimated the Galileo set-up alone could boost the region’s economy by €90 billion a year in the first 20 years of operation.

However, documents viewed by Financial Times Deutschland late last year revealed the operating costs could hit €1 billion per year over that timeframe, and that the entire project needed extra funding of at least €1.7 billion just to get up and running.

In June, the Commission conceded the GPS element of the birds won’t be switched on until 2017 - three years later than scheduled -, but said basic services would be available on time.

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