The European Union’s Galileo satellite navigation system will not provide a worldwide service by 2014 despite today's European Commission announcement, there is no date for its full operation and the EC has abandoned the project’s original €3.4 billion ($4.87 billion) price tag.
Announcing the winners of €1.04 billion worth of Galileo contracts today at 12:17h central European time (11:17h GMT) EC transport commissioner Antonio Tajani declined to give a final price tag citing rocket launch costs as a major cost growth factor. He had announced a €397 million contract for Arianespace to launch ten spacecraft with five rockets.
No date was given either for when the full 32 spacecraft constellation would be in-orbit or when the minimum 24 spacecraft needed for worldwide operation would enter service.
Tajani did announce the first space segment contract for 14 spacecraft for €566 million, awarded to German company OHB System. But this plan means only 18 spacecraft will be ready by 2014 - EADS Astrium is already building four Galileo spacecraft.
The EC told Flight International that negotiations would begin this year for the next batch of spacecraft but no number of satellites could be given.
Neither could the EC say when those spacecraft would be launched. This means only a partial constellation can be ready in 2014 six years after it was to be fully operational.
Astrium, OHB’s competitor, now has the chance to win future contracts however at the Paris air show it warned of a 40% cost hike for Galileo if the space segement is not awarded to just one company.