Telespazio COO Defends Galileo Against Cost Critics

By | February 7, 2011 | Feature, Government

[Satellite News 02-07-11] The European Commission’s (EC) Galileo and European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) mid-term review, released Jan. 18, revealed that satellite navigation programs would now cost more than 5.3 billion euros ($7.13 billion) to complete, excluding operational costs. 
    While costs have appeared to grow well beyond the EC’s expectations, Telespazio COO Lucio Magliozzi told Satellite News that Galileo remains a very vital program for the European satellite industry and that the Italian satellite operator is looking to play a key role in realizing the project. Magliozzi acknowledged the EC’s analysis as “thorough,” and that it should be the base of the future development of the program. However, he believes it is important to keep the cost hikes in context.
    “I think it is fair to say that Galileo is a very expensive program. But, even by making a superficial analysis of the costs involved in Galileo, you can see there has not been an increase in costs due to the operations side of the project,” Magliozzi said. “The budget for operations is still in place and have never changed. There hasn’t been a big increase in costs. The increase in costs has come in the area of satellite development, as well as on the launch services side. There has also been an increase in costs on the ground segment side. It is a complex program, where significant demands have been placed on it.”
    Telespazio entered the Galileo project last year through a contract issued to Spaceopal, its 50/50 joint venture with DLR GfR. Since then, the Galileo program has come into sharp focus with many European governments being forced to tackle national debt issues. Magliozzi said that Telespazio and its partners are searching for ways to save money by possibly cutting some of the less important requirements on the program.
    “I think you could see delays in terms of projects. I think this is where you could see changes, but ultimately, I still see the broad requirements staying the same. You may have different versions of the Galileo system in the future. You will have a second set of satellites and these satellites could have more demanding requirements than the first set of satellites … But I think that, where we are today, it would be very difficult to stop Galileo. We have to go right to the end of the program. However, it is possible that the levels of investment in the program may change over the next few years,” Magliozzi said.
    In October, DLR GfR signed a 194 million euro ($263.32 million) contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) on behalf of the European Union, relating to operations that will bring European satellite navigation system Galileo to full operational capacity.
    Magliozzi said this contract award is significant to the future of the program. “The first phase will see the launch of the first 14 satellites. These 14 satellites will be operated from a control point of view from Oberpfaffenhofen and from a mission point of view from Fucino. In this phase, Telespazio’s responsibility will be to control the mission of the first 14 satellites. So, we will be the constellation operator together with our partner DLR Gfr. Also, in the same contract, we will set up two fully equipped Galileo control centers completing the two centers in Fucino and Oberpfaffenhofen. At the end of the contract, both centers will be able to control the overall Galileo constellation in terms of control and mission.”
    The European Union will launch the full set of Galileo satellites in 2014, when Telespazio exits the program’s trial phase and enters into the full commercial phase.  Magliozzi said this transition would happen even if the constellation were not fully operational. “With only 14 satellites, it is not possible to have a fully operational constellation. But maybe just after 2014, we will have around 18-20 satellites in orbit. We can then start to have the service operational,” he said.
    Following the Galileo service launch, Magliozzi said the company’s next step is to develop navigation applications based on Galileo signals. “We are strongly involved in the public regulated services side, but we also want to develop services on the commercial side. We are involved in the development of security applications also. Also On the commercial side we want to develop applications, in the area of safety of life using all the potentialities available in the Galileo and EGNOS Systems.”

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