By on December 18, 2007

spac_satellite_galileo_system_concept_lg.jpgHey Eurocrats, what's the matter? Don't your guys trust the U.S. to continue supplying Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) data for your military and civilian sat nav systems? Or is it simply a question of doling-out billions of Eurozone tax dollars to aerospace contractors for your very own GPS system that you want, but don't really need? And the answer is… yes. Anyway, WardsAuto reports that Europe's Galileo GPS project has floundered on the rocks of the usual government mismanagement and waste, blowing-out its budget by billions and missing its launch date by five years… and counting. So the European Union has shut down the project, declared it an enormous waste of time and money, and apologized to tax payers. Just kidding. The EU Council of Ministers has decided to shovel another €2.4 billion ($3.6 billion) into the project. But hey, the "lion's share" of the money's coming from unspent agricultural subsidies. In their defense, "Galileo’s supporters say the network will provide navigational services that are more accurate than those available through the U.S. Global Positioning System." Oh, that's OK then.

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17 Comments on “Galileo Figaro-Magnifico: Euro GPS System Sucks-Up More Cash...”


  • avatar
    JJ

    Yeah well…Yeah.

    What enoys me about this is that The Netherlands has been the per capita highest payer to the EU budget, and have no real deciding power in return (because, let’s face it, it should work like that, REAL democracy just leads to inefficiency, look at referenda, who really knows what they are voting about?).

    Ah well, all in the name of global status I guess…

  • avatar
    KixStart

    I suspect that Galileo will, in the distant and unspecified future, provide better accuracy than the US’ GPS system does TODAY. However, GPS is being upgraded. Will the Galileo of the future be more accurate than the GPS of the future? I have my doubts. Will the Galileo of the future be *significantly* better than GPS? Almost certainly not.

    Galileo also isn’t going to get there ahead of the Chinese (although it’s unclear that anybody outside China would want to tap into it) and the Russians are hard at work resuscitating GLONASS (3 satellites launched this month, I believe).

    So, with two and a half competing systems flying, we ask, “Why bother?” Well, probably because they don’t like us holding our finger on the GPS cutoff switch (or the Russians on GLONASS, either) and capable of cutting them off when it suits us. They could spend the money on something else but if global positioning services are considered strategic, autonomy is probably essential.

  • avatar
    readingthetape

    Explain it to me again: we spend billions of dollars and station tens of thousands of troops to defend them, but the ‘Yurps want to blow billions on some status toy, that, knowing them, probably won’t work?

  • avatar

    I don’t know what we all did to deserve these idiots that appear to run the EU.
    How much will it cost us to send the EU Council of Ministers on a long space journey – to boldly go (and not bother returning).

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    When the Euros sold their Galileo GPS system, they did so with the promise of revenue from commercial subscriptions.

    Also, the US system is being upgraded. So it will be hard for them to compete for accurate and free.

    I think what is going to happen is that they are going to pass a law requiring any GPS receiver sold in Europe to use the Galileo system. That way they can justify their project.

  • avatar
    bluecon

    Those that run the EU are not elected but appointed. George Orwell had the year wrong but the system right.

  • avatar
    radimus

    I wonder if one of the future upgrades for GPS up the Pentagon’s sleeve is to add weapons to the GPS satellites so they can shoot down Galileo satellites of other services.

  • avatar

    Last time I checked (which admittedly was a while ago) the robustness of the U.S. GPS constellation was less than reassuring, and there was an issue about whose budget satellite maintenance and repair was supposed to come out of — the USAF being understandably snitty about their hard-earned pork funding going for civilians to find the nearest Burger King.

    Combining that with the fact that the U.S. can degrade the accuracy of GPS or turn it off whenever they want, if I were the EU I’d be uneasy about that, as well. A huge percentage of military and civilian ships and aircraft now rely heavily on GPS for navigation, and the latest generation of European weapons (like their American counterparts) use GPS for targeting, too. A U.S. threat to turn off GPS would have serious consequences for the EU. So, in principle — not to be confused with politics — it makes a lot of sense.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot and the EU, Russia or China had launched GPS technology first and all of the US’ civilian and military navigation systems relied on another country’s good will to continue working. The US would be compelled to launch it’s own system ASAP.

    The only tough part of that scenario is imagining these other countries being ahead of the US in space technology and microelectronics. Not a pretty picture to imagine from a US citizen’s point of view.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Easy on the Euro-trashing. Why not pause the “all Europeans are bureaucratic commies” chanting for just a moment and consider why any nation would trust a foreign controlled GPS satellite system? If the current system was owned by China would the US not want its own?
    I would also not rule out that the EU will get some revenue from this as there is no shortage of countries that will welcome the opportunity to rid their military from the dependence on the US system.

  • avatar
    Von

    The EU sats are an almost exact copy of the US design.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    I’m with argentla on this. Why should the EU rely on a system that can be turned down by the U.S. military system on a moment’s notice? Turning the tables, would the U.S. be willing to rely on a EU-based system?

    Galileo will offer precision down to a scale of 10cm for commercial purposes, something that GPS does not, and probably will not. This kind of precision enables new applications in the field of geology, climate forecasting, land-surveying and telecoms. Not to mention precise traffic and vehicle monitoring.

    Being a “Yurp” myself, I am proud of our tradition of civilian technology projects, the GSM phone system and the high-speed train grid being two examples.

  • avatar
    DearS

    I’d be nice if the US and EU trusted each other with GPS systems, But in a conflict the U.S. or E.U. may need to shut the system down. Its not personal, its self-defense. Althought either may not believe its non-personal. The U.S. may want to keep GPS available to Europe anyhow, to express friendship, if its safe of course.

  • avatar
    readingthetape

    You don’t have to worry about the US turning off the GPS system; you have to worry about the US turning off Galileo (and the Russian and Chinese analogs). What do you think the mission is of the US Space Command at Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs?

  • avatar
    BuckD

    Being a citizen of the USA, a fault-free country graced with the finest leadership money can buy, I know how fun it is to bash those kooky Europeans. But even I have to admit it’s hard to argue with the logic for having their own GPS system (That’s assuming that one employs logic when arguing an issue).

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    Actually, Galileo was dead by 2001, having blown their budget. It was a letter from Paul Wolfowitz after Sept 11 asking the EU to drop the Galileo project because of US security concerns that promoted the EU to decide that Galileo was a critical project.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    I see a little silhouetto of a man,
    Scaramouche, Scaramouche will you do the Fandango?
    Thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening me
    Galileo,Galileo,
    Galileo Galileo
    Galileo figaro, Magnifico
    But I’m just a poor boy and nobody loves me
    He’s just a poor boy from a poor family
    Spare him his life from this monstrosity
    Easy come easy go, will you let me go
    Bismillah! No, we will not let you go, let him go
    Bismillah! We will not let you go, let him go
    Bismillah! We will not let you go, let me go
    Will not let you go, let me go
    Will not let you go let me go
    No, no, no, no, no, no, no
    Mama mia, mama mia, mama mia let me go
    Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me


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