Satellite error sets back EU's ambitious satnav programme

lunes 25 de agosto de 2014 13:29 GYT

* Two EU satellites launched by Russian Soyuz put in wrong orbit

* EU wants explanation of what happened

* Latest problem for ambitious EU satnav programme

BRUSSELS, Aug 25 (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Monday it still had confidence in its plans to build a rival to the U.S. satellite navigation system despite a problem with the latest launch of satellites for the network.

Space transport company Arianespace launched two satellites for Europe's Galileo system aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket from French Guiana on Friday but they were put into the wrong orbit, calling into question their usefulness for the Galileo system.

It is the latest setback to Galileo, which has been beset by delays, financing problems and questions over whether Europe really needs its own Global Positioning System.

The EU has approved a 7 billion-euro budget for Galileo and another navigation project between now and 2020. It says Galileo will strengthen Europe's position in a satellite-navigation market expected to be worth 237 billion euros in 2020.

The European Commission said on Monday it had asked Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA) for details of the incident along with a schedule and a plan to rectify the problem. Early information from Arianespace indicate the problem involved the upper stage of the launcher, it said.

"The European Commission will participate in an inquiry with ESA to understand the causes of the incident ... " European Industry Commissioner Ferdinando Nelli Feroci said in a statement. "I remain convinced of the strategic importance of Galileo and I am confident that the deployment of the constellation of satellites will continue as planned."   Continuación...