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Onlookers at the European Parliament's esplanade applaud at the broadcast launch of the first two Galileo satellites to take off from Kourou, Europe's space base in French Guyana.
The 20 billion euro project, named after the famous Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei, is a joint project of the European Union and European Space Agency.
The vice president of the European Commission for industry and entrepreneurship calls the launch extraordinary.
[Antonio Tajani, EC Vice-President]:
“Today will mark an important day in the European space agenda. The launch of the first two Galileo satellites in Kourou is an important event for two reasons; firstly, because this is the start of the Galileo program. Secondly this is the first Russian Soyuz rocket set to launch from Kourou.”
Galileo will provide European nations with a reliable and highly accurate positioning system. This will enable Europe to operate independently from the Russian GLONASS and the US GPS systems.
Patrick Rudloff, Head of EU Affairs at EADS Astrium, says the program is a milestone for European Space policy.
[Patrick Rudloff, Head of EU Affairs at EADS Astrium]:
“It is a major achievement for the European Space policy. This is the first program with the first satellite, and in addition in the first Soyuz from the European Spaceport of Kourou.”
Launched from Kourou’s European Spaceport onto a 23,000 kilometer-high orbit, the 2 satellites are the first in a series that will enable Galileo’s initial service in 2014.
Galileo will offer users many levels of services. It will cover areas such as transport, agriculture, search and rescue operations, or for daily living - like mobile phones or car navigation.
The Galileo project is expected to be completed by 2019.
NTD, Brussels, Belgium