The European Commission is offering 27 children the chance to have one of the Galileo satellites named after them by entering a drawing competition.
The European Commission (EC) is hoping that the competition will help get children more interested in space.
"With satellite navigation, space exploration, and space observation, the topic of space is of ever increasing importance for citizens and for our economic future. We wish to incite the creativity of children, and for them to become enthusiastic about space and its opportunities from a young age," European Commission vice-president Antonio Tajani said in a statement on Thursday. "We reward this creativity with the unique opportunity — of offering 27 children the chance to give a satellite their name."
The competition is open to children from all member states and the winner from each will have his or her name given to one of the satellites.
The first two Galileo satellites are expected to launch in September and will carry the names of the Bulgarian and Belgian winners. The competition is open to 9 to 11-year-old children and entry for Belgian and Bulgarian children is open between 10 April and 31 May.
It will be opened to the remaining 25 member states 1 September and will close on 15 November. In each country, a three person panel will select the best drawing. The competition also has a website tracking its progress that will go live on 10 April.
In total, there will be 30 satellites that make up the Galileo constellation, with launches planned regularly from 2012.
The Galileo system is intended to provide an alternative to the US-controlled GPS constellation for providing critical and emergency geolocation systems. In 2009 it was criticised for cost overruns and delays.