Prague to host part of EU’s global satellite navigation system

The Czech Republic is set to host part of Europe’s Galileo global navigation satellite system, after EU representatives on Wednesday voted to locate the project’s administrative centre in Prague. Ministers are expected to rubber-stamp that decision in Brussels on Friday.

The European Union’s own global satellite navigation project, entitled Galileo, should be up and running by 2014. It will be the European answer to America’s GPS. Galileo’s operation centres are located in Germany and Italy – and Prague is now extremely close to hosting the system’s administrative section. Karel Dobeš is the Czech government’s commissioner for the Galileo project.

“What we hope to get in Prague is marketing, certification, accreditation, and public relations. We also hope that all the contracts will be made in Prague in the future. The Czech capital should be the showroom of the Galileo project.”

Karel Dobeš
In Wednesday’s vote, 22 EU ambassadors voted for Prague to host the headquarters of Galileo’s administrative section; four voted against and one abstained. Mr Dobeš says there are several reasons why Prague seems to have beaten its only competitor, the Dutch spa town of Noordwijk.

“The Czech Republic began working on the bid in 2006. One of the reasons we should get the seat in Prague is that we are the only former Eastern bloc country that joined the European Space Agency. Also, the Czech Republic is the only country that does not a European agency.”

If the choice of Prague is confirmed, Galileo’s supervision agency will be sending some 50 people to their new offices in the Holešovice neighbourhood. It is hoped that the project could help provide an stimulus for the Czech space industry.

“In the Czech Republic, this could be an impulse and motivation for its industry. I hope we’ll be making some clusters for satellite navigation. Some European space industry firms, such as EADS Astrium, are coming to Prague, and I hope they’ll be cooperating with Czech companies on space projects.”

Friday’s decision on the location of Galileo’s administrative centre has to be unanimous, and Prague remains the only candidate in the bid.