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A spat between the US and the EU over the European satellite-based global navigation system Galileo is to be formally ended in Ireland this week. Officials will sign an accord to ensure that the new system will provide the desired accuracy but not interfere with US military signals.

A Brussels-based spokesperson for the joint European Union and European Space Agency (ESA) project told ElectricNews.Net that the deal will be formally signed at the EU/US summit being held in Dromoland Castle, Clare.

The Galileo navigation system is based on a constellation of 30 satellites and ground stations providing information on the location of users. The new system is set to be fully operational in 2008, although initial launches are scheduled to begin later in 2004. The new system will enable users with a small low-cost receiver to determine the position of any moving or stationary object such as a boat, vehicle, livestock to within a metre.

At present, navigation via satellite is carried out using the US military-developed Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Russian-controlled GLONASS system.

Galileo is expected to boost the European aerospace industry and guarantee European autonomy in the field of communications, which are currently at the mercy of the US military system GPS, according to the European Commission. As well as ensuring European independence, the project should also be seen as compatible with and complementary to existing systems such as GPS, the Commission says .

The technology market created by Galileo could create 100,000 jobs and produce $10bn revenues a year, growing to $300bn by 2020, according to Commission forecasts.

© ENN

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