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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 August 2006, 16:48 GMT 17:48 UK
Europe secures extra Galileo cash
Giove-B satellite  Image: Esa
The constellation will eventually consist of 30 satellites
An amount of 200m euros (135m) needed to cover extra costs on Europe's Galileo sat-nav system has materialised just in time for a crucial deadline.

All participating governments provided the money in time for the 24 August European Space Agency (Esa) deadline.

Higher than expected costs to develop the system's technology meant Galileo's 1.1bn-euro in-orbit validation (IOV) phase went 400m euros over budget.

The Galileo positioning system will eventually comprise 30 satellites.

The constellation will give Europe its own version of the US Global Positioning System (GPS).

Didier Faivre, head of navigation at Esa, told the BBC that all 17 letters from the respective member states confirming payment were received on the day of the deadline.

"There were some concerns on 23rd August," he joked, "but they came."

Just in time

Galileo's IOV phase is intended to deliver two test satellites - Giove-A and Giove-B - plus the first four operational spacecraft and ground equipment.

Giove-A was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in December 2005. Giove-B was due to have lifted off in the spring, but the launch has now been pushed to December.

The European Commission, which is developing Galileo with Esa, had already pledged 200m euros towards the funding gap and now Esa member states have agreed to provide the remaining 200m euros.

The 24 August deadline to governments was stipulated under Esa funding guidelines. Member states indicated at the end of last year that they would fund the overrun.

The largest contributors are the UK, Germany, Italy and France, which each provide 16.9%.

There were concerns that the UK would not fully meet its commitments to the Galileo project, estimated to cost 3.4bn euros in total.

But last week, Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling announced that the UK would invest another 21m in the civil satellite navigation system.

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