Emma Kelly/LONDON

Astrium-led space consortium Galileo Industries will set up a company early next year to bid for the management of the public-private partnership (PPP) to develop the Galileo satellite navigation system, if the project is approved by Europe's transport ministers on 22 December.

Galileo Industries, which comprises Astrium, Alcatel Space and Alenia Spazio, wants ministers to approve full development of the c3 billion ($2.8 billion) Galileo system and to set "clear deadlines" for elements of the project, says Astrium head of navigation business development, Mike Healy.

The PPP needs to be "set up correctly to attract private industry", says Healy. "We'd like to be given the remit by the public sector to pull together the relevant people to arrange the PPP." Galileo Industries also aims to be the prime contractor for Galileo, which is likely to comprise 30 medium earth orbit satellites, providing navigation services to 400 million mass market users by 2015, along with 70,000 "safety of life" users, including those in aviation.

Companies keen to win Galileo work - such as the Thales (ex-Thomson-CSF)-led Siderius consortium - have been campaigning for its launch, while lobbying the European Commission, to address several concerns.

Galileo Industries has told EC transport commissioner Loyola de Palacio that while it has already done a lot of work (securing radio frequencies and pushing the PPP, for example) the public sector has not done likewise. It wants a statement on public sector funding, plus a contractual framework, while Healy says appropriate management must be put in place.

Some governments have expressed similar concerns, with the UK setting seven conditions - some with deadlines - for approving Galileo. It says plans for the management structure, including private sector involvement, should be established by next June.

Source: Flight International