kourou - Europe continued on Tuesday to set up its own navigation network, called Galileo. Four satellites were launched simultaneously from French Guiana. The probes weigh more than 700 kilos each.
Galileo is the largest space project in European history. The European Commission wants to build an alternative for the GPS that is used everywhere, that is from the US Army. Galileo will soon not only help cars and ships to get from A to B.
Rescue services can use the accurate data for searches, and armies for attacks. In the distant future, even aircraft must be able to land safely on autopilot thanks to Galileo.
The network is still under construction. Ultimately, it must consist of about thirty satellites. They are about 23,000 kilometers from the earth. With the four satellites launched on Tuesday, 22 were brought into orbit around the earth.
It costs more than 4 billion euros to build and move all satellites around the earth. After that, the operation costs about 800 million euros per year.
Each Galileo satellite bears the name of a child from a European country. The probes launched on Tuesday are Nicole (after a girl from Austria), Zofia (Poland), Alexandre (Portugal) and Irina (Romania).
The previous Galileo launch was at the end of last year. Then the 'Dutch' Tijmen went into the air, named after a boy from Gelderland Winssen.