Europe deploys first Galileo satellite

The European Union has successfully launched a navigation system seen to rival the existing GPS network, an AFP report said.


The report said the EU successfully deployed the first satellite in a 3.8 billion euro ($4.5 billion) Galileo satellite system that allows civilians to calculate their geographic position to the nearest meter.


The British-built GIOVE-A successfully opened its solar panels and booted onboard computers after launch, the report said.


The GIOVE-A blasted off from Kazakhstan on a Russian Soyuz rocket on a mission to test equipment, including an atomic clock, in preparation for future phases of the project, the AFP report said.


The satellite will help set the stage for a 30-satellite constellation giving mariners, pilots, drivers and others an almost pinpoint-accurate navigational tool, the report further said.


Next year, a second test satellite will go into space, followed by four working satellites in 2008 and the first commercial use of the system in 2010.