The European Commission Thursday handed out over
Germany's OHB System and SSTL of the U.K. will build the satellites in a contract worth
ThalesAleniaSpace of Italy will supply system support for
All remaining procurement contracts, for the ground mission infrastructure, the ground control infrastructure and the operations should be awarded by mid-2010 and the system is due to become operational in early 2014, it said. The constellation may eventually include up to 32 satellites.
"With this and the upcoming awards for the remaining procurement packages, we are concluding a critical phase of the Galileo program," Antonio Tajani, the European Commissioner in charge of transport, told journalists Thursday. "We can now focus on the actual roll-out and demonstrate to European citizens that Europe's own satellite navigation system is firmly under way," he added.
Galileo will initially offer services including an open service for GPS-type purposes and a search and rescue service. It promises to be more accurate and reliable than the GPS, which can be shut down to the general public and commandeered by the U.S. government for military purposes during a conflict.