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EU reduces bill but adds 6 more satnavs

Brussels, Belgium: The European Union (EU) purchased six more satellites to add to its Galileo global navigation satellite system and saved EUR 500 million (USD 717 million) from the final bill. Now, a total of 24 satellites will be put into orbit, up from 18, with the first satellites expected to be put into operational service in 2014, for a total cost of EUR 4.8 billion.
The EU reduced the final bill through rationalising costs and putting pressure on industry for an improved deal, the European Commission’s industry spokesman Carlo Corazza said. The final contracts, signed with France’s Thales Alenia Space and EADS Astrium for EUR 281 million and 73.5 million, respectively, will contribute to providing services for humanitarian search and rescue missions, as well as functions restricted to government bodies and an open signal for all other users of positioning and navigation services. The European Commission has estimated that Galileo, which will send its first satellites into orbit this October, will deliver 60 billion euros to the European economy over 20 years and will also avoid the cost of relying on other systems. But experts have questioned whether the system can deliver all the benefits and cost savings that its planners envisage. The 27-nation EU agreed to invest public money in Galileo when commercial backers withdrew in 2007, with the project having suffered setbacks because of disputes over funding. The system, controlled by civil rather than military authorities, will provide initial services from 2014.  
Source: Reuters