Galileo partner fires chief executive

OHB-System, one of the firms involved in Europe’s Galileo satellite program, has sacked its chief after he claimed the project would fail.
The firm’s board acted after Norwegian daily Aftenposten posted comments made by Berry Smutny to US diplomats in 2009, which were revealed in secret cables published by Wikileaks late last year.
Smutny said the project is a waste of money that was designed to promote French interests, and claimed the current GPS system was sufficient to meet Europe’s navigation needs, Aftenposten reported.
He also said Galileo was “doomed to fail” if the scope of the project wasn’t reduced.
OHB-System said it had no choice but to sack Smutny “to effectively avert any further damage to the company,” in a statement issued yesterday.
Smutny denies making the comments shortly before the firm won a €566 million contract to build 14 satellites in conjunction with UK-based Surrey Satellite Technology.
The European Union awarded contracts worth €1 billion to construct the satellite network in January 2010, with the aim of launching services in early 2014.
Arianespace won a €397 million deal to launch the satellites on Russian Soyuz rockets, while an €85 million supply system deal was won by Italian firm ThalesAleniaSpace.