Longer wait for India as funds delay Galileo take-off

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New Delhi, Nov 7 (UNI) India will have to wait to be a part of European Union's (EU) Galileo space programme as the European states still need for additional funds.

''We have to put our house in order first. We need to finalise the funds at the EU level,'' said European Commission (EC) Ambassador Daniele Smadja.

The EU executive body has also mooted a proposal for additional funds, added Ms Smadja.

The proposal is to revise the EU's multiannual financial framework to provide for the extra 2.4 billion needed to be funded from Community funds (one billion is already committed) in order to put Galileo into orbit by 2013.

The EU, in a bid to join the space race, had kicked off the Galileo global navigation satellite system in 2002 as a civilian alternative to the military-led American GPS and Russian GLONASS.

EU member states have expressed their disagreement over financing the project Galileo, a satellite radio navigation programme, which is expected to be decided in December.

The final decision is expected to come in by November-end this year. However, if there are difficulties, the issue will go to the December Summit. The European Council will finalise the dossier in December 2007.

Originally, Galileo was to be a public-private partnership, but the private sector saw few chances for revenue in a world where the GPS-civil signal is free and refuses to stump up much cash.

Participating nations agreed in-principle that public funds would make up the shortfall, but remain split on how this is to be achieved.

Britain, Germany, and the Netherlands would like to channel the rescue funds via the European Space Agency (ESA), which would result in Galileo not under Brussels' control. In that case, the system would probably be entirely civil in nature.

India was to take a 300 million euro stake in the programme.

China has already signed up as a part of the US GPS network.

The Galileo Joint Undertaking is a venture between the EU and the European Space Agency and will be a rival to the Global Positioning System (GPS) of the US.

Galileo was 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 will provide users, ranging from aircraft and shipping to cars and trekkers, with a navigational fix accurate to within just one metre feet, 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.

The current planned figure for the programme is of 151 million euros for Galileo in the 2008 EU budget. This sum was decided in July, at which point the agreement for public funds to replace private was firmed up at national-ministerial level.

Now the EU representatives want the EC to rewrite its budget plans for the next few years and pull forward an extra 739 million euros to get Galileo rolling at the earliest.

UNI

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