The spaceship was launched from Kazakhstan (RFE/RL)
28 December 2005 -- Europe has launched the first test spacecraft of its Galileo satellite navigation system.
The "Giove A" satellite took off on board a Russian Soyuz rocket today from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan. Galileo Systems Manager Sylvain Loddo said at the Surrey Satellite Technology control center near London that there could not have been a better start.
"It would have been very difficult to imagine a better start on this program. We have a very [correct] orbit. We have already acquired the signal, so it's quite perfect. This is the kind of standard we would like to keep on Galileo."
The satellite will test key technologies, including what the European Space Agency calls the most accurate atomic clock sent into space. The Galileo project, which will be under civilian control, is designed to rival the American Global Positioning System, which is run by the U.S. Defense Department.
It's hoped to be fully operational by 2010.