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Israel part of EU's Galileo satellite navigation program
By: Israel Insider staff and partners   
Published: December 28, 2005   
The first satellite in the EU's Galileo satellite navigation program was launched from Kazakhstan on Wednesday, a major step forward for Europe's answer to the United States' Global Positioning System satellites.

The satellite, named "Giove A," took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz rocket on schedule at 11:19 a.m. local time (0519 GMT). After the launch amid clear skies, ground control teams were waiting to establish a connection with the satellite.

In orbit, the satellite will test atomic clocks and navigation signals, secure Galileo's frequencies in space and allow scientists to monitor how radiation affects the craft.

The $4.3 billion Galileo project will eventually use about 30 satellites and end Europe's reliance on the GPS system, which is ultimately controlled by the U.S. military.

Six non-EU nations - China, India, Israel, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Ukraine - have also joined the program set up by the European Commission and European Space Agency, and discussions are also under way with others.

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The AP contributed to this report.

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