MOSCOW (AFP) Dec 28, 2005
Europe successfully deployed the first test satellite of its 3.8 billion euro Galileo navigation system in space on Wednesday the European Space Agency (ESA) said.
"We have a working satellite," the ESA's project leader Javier Bendicto told AFP by telephone from Russia's Baikonur launch centre in the steppes of northern Kazakhstan.
He was speaking after the GIOVE-A, launched on a Russian Soyuz rocket at 0519 GMT, successfully opened its solar panels and booted up its onboard computers.
The satellite will test equipment, including an atomic clock, ahead of future launches of other satellites making up the 4.5 billion-dollar Galileo network, which is destined to give mariners, pilots, drivers and others a pinpoint-accurate navigational tool.
"In fact, everything happened even better than expected because of a high quality placement in orbit, thanks to the Soyuz rocket," Benedicto said.
The Galileo is designed to rival the United States GPS system, currently the only highly accurate satellite navigation system with global coverage.
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