The European Space Agency’s Galileo program could get an extra six satellites in addition to the 18 currently funded under the €3.4 billion ($5 billion) global satellite navigation system, the European Commission says.
EC Vice President Antonio Tajani says the organization has identified €500 million in unanticipated savings for the program through 2013, after an initial estimate issued in February indicated a €1.9 billion overrun. This has lowered the overrun estimate to €1.4 billion, Tajani said during a press briefing today at the Paris air show here.
A competition for the extra satellites is to be held after the launch of the first two Galileo spacecraft from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana Oct. 20.
“After the launch in October, we will have with us a half-billion euros,” Tajani says. “I think at this moment it’s possible to have six new satellites.”
Tajani says the second pair of Galileo spacecraft would be launched in 2012, with subsequent launches to follow every six months.
The additional money to launch the remaining satellites will come from the next multi-year budget cycle that starts in January 2014. The commission will have to negotiate for the €1.4 billion budget increase needed to launch the remaining satellites in the planned 30-satellite constellation, Tajani says.
Tajani was one of a half-dozen European government and industry leaders in attendance to announce two contract awards for the Galileo ground segment. Thales Alenia Space landed a €281 million award to build the Galileo mission segment, a global network of sensor stations designed to monitor signals from the satellites, a chain of Earth stations to uplink navigation data, parallel communications networks and a complex sequence of processing elements.
Astrium, the space division of EADS, won €73.5 million to provide ground-control segment facilities.