On 20 October the first two operational Galileo satellites will be launched from European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
Between now and 2014 another 16 satellites will follow, thus making the system operational. The full constellation will consist of 30 satellites providing accurate navigation to travellers, ships, aeroplanes, search and rescue services and other users around the globe.
The Galileo programme got off to a slow start, with many delays after 1999, when EU leaders gave the go-ahead to develop a system to make Europe independent in satellite navigation. The real kick off was possible only when the Parliament, Council and the Commission struck a deal in 2008 to include funding for the programme in the EU’s long-term budget.
The new satellite navigation system is expected to deliver €60 billion to the European economy over 20 years in additional revenues for industry and public and social benefits, not counting the benefit of technological independence.