First Galileo satellites launch is successful

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TWO satellites which were both part-made in Portsmouth have been launched.

They are Europe’s first fully-operational Galileo satellites and were launched from the European spaceport in French Guiana, South America.

The satellite payloads were built in the UK by Astrium and will test the system’s communication networks before becoming part of the final Galileo system.

A joint initiative of the European Commission and the European Space Agency, Galileo is Europe’s answer to the American global satellite navigation system GPS.

The first two satellites will be joined by 16 others, launched between now and 2015.

Together they will make a giant ‘space clock’, as each will have within them atomic clocks which allow people with receivers on the ground, in devices such as mobile phones, to pinpoint their own location within a few metres.

It will be used by the emergency services, as well as companies and private individuals.

Havant MP David Willetts, who is also minister for universities and science, said: ‘The launch marks an important milestone for the Galileo programme.’

He added: ‘It is testament to the continued success of the UK space industry, which has played such a decisive role in constructing the Galileo system and these first satellites.’