The UK government has announced that it will foot the bill for Galileo, the £86m (€140m) European alternative to the US global positioning satellite (GPS) system.
The European Space Agency will launch 38 satellites to provide receivers on the ground with information on their position, accurate to within 10 metres. Galileo will be used to run trains, land aircraft and guide vehicles.
Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt announced the funding for the plan yesterday, which is widely seen as giving a boost to the UK space industry.
Quoting consultants Esys, Hewitt explained that the programme was likely to create 1,000 jobs.
She insisted that the investment will allow the UK to maintain its leading edge expertise in space technology and development.
"Our main goal must be to ensure that the UK is at the forefront of the wider economic and consumer benefits that will come from innovative new services," said Hewitt.
But Galileo is controversial as some European Union members consider it to be unnecessary because the US already operates a free GPS system.
The price tag of the government's investment has yet to be negotiated with the European Space Agency, according to the Department of Trade and Industry.
Galileo is scheduled to be online by 2008.
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