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Last Updated: Friday, 25 August 2006, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
Boost to Galileo sat-nav system
Artist's impression of Galileo network (Esa)
Galileo is designed for a host of new sat-nav applications
The UK government is to invest another 21m in a space mission to build a civil satellite navigation system.

The boost to Europe's Galileo project is "good news for British jobs, British technology and science," said Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling.

UK firms are heavily involved in the 2.4bn scheme, which promises to transform transport and communication industries.

The network of 30 Galileo satellites should be fully operational in 2010.

It is seen as central to providing the high volumes of time- and location-based data needed for new services such as advanced sat-nav, mobile location data, natural disaster surveillance and air traffic control.

UK expertise

"The Galileo project has real potential to develop groundbreaking technology leading to more accurate in-car navigation and new systems for the emergency services to locate missing or injured people," said Mr Darling.

'Smart box' would automatically transmit location of vehicle
Emergency request could be triggered at airbag inflation
Message might contain details of passengers, e.g. in coaches
Real-time traffic data would guide others away from scene
Future systems could warn of road dangers and take control of vehicle, e.g. limiting speed

"Already many British companies are leading its development. We want our businesses to continue to lead when it is up and running - with new opportunities opening for our transport and communications industries.

"British expertise is helping to build it, we want British companies and jobs to benefit from it. That is why we are backing it."

'Ten-fold return'

The first test satellite for the system, launched last December, was built by the UK firm Surrey Satellite Technology.

Astrium UK and LogicaCMG are major partners in Galileo Industries, the consortium of European companies building other test satellites.

Dr Nick Veck, Chairman of UKspace, the association for the UK space industry, said industry was delighted that the UK government had decided to invest further funding into Galileo.

"We applaud the government's continuing campaign to achieve value for money on the programme, which, overall, should achieve a more than ten-fold return on investment to the UK over the next decade, not including the spin-offs into applications and services in the downstream markets," he told the BBC.

Road users

The Galileo network will differ from GPS, not only in the fact that it will be a civilian-run service but also in that it will offer performance guarantees.

Powerful applications are expected on the roads; it will allow a vehicle's precise movements to be tracked, presenting new possibilities for road-user charging and tolling.

The precision and availability of the Galileo signal will allow charges to be applied based on the distance travelled by a vehicle and other parameters.

Time and place for entrepreneurs
23 May 06 |  Science/Nature
Next Galileo launch pushed back
12 Mar 06 |  Science/Nature
First Galileo signals received
13 Jan 06 |  Science/Nature
Navigating future for road charges
29 Dec 05 |  Science/Nature

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