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India to invest in Galileo satellite project

India is to take a 300 million euro (350 million dollar) stake in the European Union’s Galileo satellite navigation system, the EU said on Thursday, 30th Oct, after that China also signed up to the rival of the US GPS network. The Indian contribution will add to the 200 million euros pledged by China for Galileo under an accord signed at an EU-China summit in Beijing on Thursday.

The announcement came after a visit to Brussels this week by Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha, who said Tuesday that Galileo was one of the subjects to be discussed at an EU-India summit in New Delhi late next month. The Galileo Joint Undertaking is a venture between the EU and the European Space Agency and will rival, and likely outperform, the GPS of the United States. Galileo, scheduled to be operational by 2008, is designed to encircle the globe with 30 satellites in medium Earth orbit, comprising 27 operational satellites and three reserves, plus two control centres on the ground.

It should provide users, ranging from aircraft and shipping to cars and trekkers, with a navigational fix accurate to within just one metrefeet), more accurate than the US GPS system. At present, the only global satellite system available to civilians is GPS, but it is accurate only to 100 metres (325 feet) for civilians, or 22 metres (71 feet) for the military, and is under the control of the Pentagon. Galileo’s total development and launch costs are put at around 3.2-3.3 billion euros, with initial running costs from 2008 onwards of around 220 million euros a year.