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First orbiting Galileo navigation satellite speeds up China-Europe space cooperation

The first test satellite of Europe's Galileo navigation system, which blasted off at 13:19 Beijing Time on Wednesday, has sped up space research cooperation between China and Europe.

In an interview with Xinhua after the launch, Zhang Guocheng, vice director of the National Remote Sensing Center of China (NRSCC), said that the test satellite will not work in the future system, but will play a key role in ensuring the successful deployment of the whole constellation.

China-made parts and equipment are not on the test satellite, Zhang said.

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 second Galileo test satellite is scheduled to be launched in 2006.

The 3.5-billion-euro Galileo system is a network of 30 satellites intended for civilian use, and will end Europe's reliance on the US-controlled global positioning system (GPS).

As the first non-EU country, China promised it would invest 200 million euros into the project. Since July, China has signed seven technological development and service contracts with European partners.

Zhang said the Chinese enterprises that are taking research and development missions for the project are all competitive state companies.


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