UK leads in Galileo-procurement shortlist

The UK satellite-communications industry has made a strong showing in the shortlist of companies bidding to build Europe's GPS alternative

The shortlist of companies bidding to build Europe's Galileo satellite system has been released, with UK firms leading the pack.

Eleven candidates are on the list, which was made public by the European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA) on Friday. The list is the result of "pre-defined selection and exclusion criteria", according to a Commission statement. Ten applicants for work on Galileo have already been dropped from the longlist.

The UK's Logica is up against France's Thales Alenia Space to get the contract for the ground mission system. The ground-control system contract will be the subject of a UK-UK battle between Astrium and the G-Nav grouping, represented by Lockheed Martin IS&S. The Nav-up grouping, represented by Inmarsat, will be taking on Germany's DLR and Italy's Telespazio for the right to run operations.

"Logica is in the unique position of being able to bring together experts from a range of disciplines to assist both the public and private sector in meeting the business and technical challenges of Galileo," said Stuart Martin, Logica's director of space and satellite communications, in a Monday statement. "Our pan-European space team has already brought its expertise to bear in helping ESA, the European Commission and industry to define and develop Galileo and its applications."

The procurement process should lead to the creation of Europe's answer to America's Global Positioning System (GPS) constellation of satellites. Other rivals include China's Beidou/Compass, Russia's Glonass, India's Gagan and Japan's MSAS.

Galileo's construction is already underway, with around £1.3bn having been spent on it already. A further investment of £2.7bn is planned for the system.