Final contracts awarded for Galileo GPS rival

The UK wing of the aerospace firm Astrium has won one of the final two contracts to have been awarded for Europe's Galileo GPS rival.Astrium will be paid €73.

The UK wing of the aerospace firm Astrium has won one of the final two contracts to have been awarded for Europe's Galileo GPS rival.

Astrium will be paid €73.5m (£65.2m) for the "housekeeping" of the Galileo satellites, the European Commission said in a statement on Wednesday. The other contract announced on that day was given to France's Thales Alenia Space, for "ensuring the formatting of navigation information for broadcasting by the satellites", the Commission said.

The Astrium contract will see the company maintain the satellites and make sure they are in the correct position in orbit.

"The award of the contracts to French and UK companies once again underlines the true cross-border European collaboration which is Galileo," enterprise commissioner Antonio Tajani said in the statement. "Signature of the contracts marks the end of a rigorous procurement process, and the beginning of a new chapter for Galileo."

The first two operational Galileo satellites are scheduled to launch on 20 October from a space port in French Guiana. Three services are supposed to be up and running in 2014: a free open navigational service for use by everyone, a public regulated service for governmental bodies and the like, and a search-and-rescue service.

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