Decision on Galileo Postponed To Review Contract Bids

 - January 31, 2007, 5:21 AM

The biggest question remaining about Europe’s homegrown satellite navigation project appears to be not whether the satnav network will ever be built but rather who will run the multibillion-dollar Galileo system after the first of its 30 satellites are launched later this year.

The European Union (EU) last month delayed a decision on which consortium would secure the contract to run Galileo–a rival to GPS that is expected to cost nearly $5 billion to build and deploy–after officials said they needed more time to determine which of two competing bids offered the best value. The competition is between two teams: iNavsat, which includes Inmarsat, EADS Space and Thales; and Eurely, a grouping of Alcatel, Finmeccanica, Aena and Hispasat.

“At this stage it was impossible to decide between the two, so now negotiations on the concession agreement have to be opened with the two consortia simultaneously,” according to an EU statement. The talks with the competing groups will take up to three mont