'Giove A' was launched by a Soyuz-Fregat vehicle from Baikonur in Kazakhstan on Wednesday morning. The satellite is expected to be deployed at an altitude of 23,258km, inclined at 56 degrees to the equator.
The satellite is the first of two demonstrator satellites that will allow scientists to perform tests and trials. It was built in Guildford by Surrey Satellite Technology.
Galileo aims to build an alternative navigation technology using 30 satellites by 2010. It will be the only satellite navigation system under civilian control, ensuring economic independence.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is the most prevalent technology for satellite navigation and is controlled by the US government.
The technology can be scaled back to become less accurate in times of war or whenever the US army desires. Similarly the Russian government controls Global Navigation Satellite Systems. Galileo is built to be interoperable with both systems.
Development and deployment costs for Galileo are estimated at €3.4bn. It is financed by a public-private partnership.
Basic navigation services will be available free of charge, while users requiring a guaranteed service level will be charged a fee.
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