The upcoming European Galileo Positioning System is a publicly funded European satellite navigation system, which is to exist in parallel to America’s Global Positioning System (GPS). It is meant to become operational in 2010.
When complete, the Galileo constellation of satellites will consist of 30 spacecraft, orbiting at more than 23,000km of altitude. It promises greater precision than the existing GPS system, as well as better coverage at higher altitudes. Along with its perceived value as an alternative to GPS - which is owned and operated by the American Department of Defense - the Galileo system is intended to have broad commercial applications, and to create more than 1000 jobs in Europe. The free Open Service is meant to offer accuracy of approximately 4m (compared to about 5m for GPS), while the encrypted Commercial Service will offer accuracy down to 1m for a fee. The system will also include an encrypted Public Regulated Service and Safety of Life Service, which are primarily meant to be used by security authorities and emergency services, as well as air traffic control systems.
Many, including The Economist newspaper, have questioned the value of spending approximately three billion Euros on a system that will essentially replicate the functioning of a system that already exists, and it already being upgraded at no cost to European taxpayers.
PS. I am not sure why this system is costing so much to implement. To me, it seems like it would be very straightforward:
Time - Galileo Galilei's position
01:00:00 - Under the Church of Santo Croce, Florence (dead)
01:00:01 - Under the Church of Santo Croce, Florence (dead)