Dutch criticise Galileo satellite delays

Dutch transport minister Camiel Eurlings is ‘extremely critical’ of the delays threatening Europe’s ambitious navigational communication satellite system Galileo which is being coordinated by the European Space Agency in Noordwijk.

The alternative to America’s GPS system risks becoming paralysed as the result of in-fighting among the eight European companies involved in the construction consortium.
The companies – which include EADS, Thales, Alcatel and Deutsche Telekom – have been in deadlock about the selection of a leader and the division of contracts for 15 months. The €3bn project is the EU’s biggest ever investment and is a public-private partnership (private companies will be responsible for two-thirds of the funding) says ANP.
Eurlings has called for an investigation into alternative solutions to ensure the private project goes ahead.
During parliamentary discussions on Thursday Socialist Party spokesman Emile Roemer suggested that the Dutch government pulls out of the project while his Liberal VVD colleague Paul de Krom said the private parties should be dumped.
According an ESA spokesman, the 2011 operational date for the 30 new satellites in the Galileo project is still feasible as long as contract decisions are made this year.
ESA was set up in 1975 and is a cooperation of 17 member states including the Netherlands. The biggest ESA facility is Estec in Noordwijk where 2,170 people work.
Meanwhile on Thursday evening the European Commission has given the eight companies until 10 May to set up an operational company for the Galileo project.

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