Galileo satnav system called 'stupid idea': US cable

Jan 13, 2011
A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying part of the Galileo system blasts off at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in 2005. The head of a German firm working on Europe's Galileo satellite navigation system called it a "stupid idea" being pushed by France for military reasons, a leaked US diplomatic cable showed Thursday.

The head of a German firm working on Europe's Galileo satellite navigation system called it a "stupid idea" being pushed by France for military reasons, a leaked US diplomatic cable showed Thursday.

According to an October 2009 cable from the US embassy in Berlin obtained by and released by Norwegian daily Aftenposten, the head of German satellite firm OHB Technology, Berry Smutny, made the comments to US diplomats in Berlin.

"I think Galileo is a stupid idea that primarily serves French interests," Smutny was quoted as saying in the cable.

Galileo aims to challenge the dominance of the US-built (GPS) set up by the Pentagon in the 1980s, which is widely used in a huge variety of like those in cars and boats.

Smutny, whose firm was jointly awarded a 566 million euro ($742 million) contract to develop 14 satellites for the system, said the project was "a waste of EU taxpayers' money championed by French interests," according to the cable.

"He claimed the EU desire to develop a redundant but alternative to GPS was spearheaded by the French after an incident during the Kosovo conflict when the US military 'manipulated' GPS to support military operations," the cable said.

"Since this time, he said France has aggressively corralled EU support to invest in Galileo development -- something Smutny said France wants to ensure their missile guidance systems are free of any GPS reliance. Smutny added, the irony for German investment in Galileo is that some of France's nuclear missiles are aimed at Berlin," it said.

Asked about the cable by Aftenposten, Smutny denied making the comments.

"I made none of the statements attributed to me, though it is true that I had an informal dinner with them (the US diplomats)," he said.

Plagued by delays and cost over-runs, the Galileo project has an official price tag of 3.4 billion euros but reports have said the final cost of the system could exceed 20 billion euros. It is scheduled to be operational in 2014.

Aftenposten said last month it had obtained all the diplomatic documents leaked to WikiLeaks and that it would publish stories based on them independently of the whistleblowing website's own releases.

WikiLeaks has so far only made public around 2,000 of the some 250,000 cables in its possession, in cooperation with publications El Pais, The Guardian, The New York Times, Le Monde and Der Spiegel.

Explore further: SpaceX launches supplies to space station (Update)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

EU rejects 'exorbitant' price talk for Galileo maps

Oct 26, 2010

A top European official slapped down reports on Tuesday that the much-delayed Galileo satellite navigation system could be 20 billion euros over budget, as he named a new contractor for the project.

EU's Galileo satnav system over budget, late: report

Oct 07, 2010

Europe's Galileo satellite navigation system, meant to rival the US-built Global Positioning System (GPS), is over budget, running late and will be unprofitable for years, a press report said on Thursday.

Recommended for you

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

21 hours ago

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

The importance of plumes

Apr 18, 2014

The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for finding black holes. It can pick out thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a thumbprint. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Hubble provided ...

Ceres and Vesta Converge in Virgo

Apr 18, 2014

Don't let them pass you by. Right now and continuing through July, the biggest and brightest asteroids will be running on nearly parallel tracks in the constellation Virgo and so close together they'll easily ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ennui27
5 / 5 (2) Jan 13, 2011
I hope Mr, Smutny stays in rocket science ...if he joined the diplomatic corps another German/French war would be quick to come.
frajo
5 / 5 (1) Jan 15, 2011
Of course the NATO member USA has a vested interest to stay the sole provider of satellite navigation data. Thus Mr Smutny could be just a lobbyist.

Smutny added, the irony for German investment in Galileo is that some of France's nuclear missiles are aimed at Berlin,"
The true irony is that Mr. Smutny criticized a project which earned his firm (parts of) a multimillion $$ contract. Usually firms in the capitalist world are profit oriented.

More news stories

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...