Yahoo News reports that the European Union has deployed the first test satellite for a navigation system that will be similar to the GPS network in the U.S. Another five satellites will go into space over the next four years. Europe plans to have a system of 30 satellites that mariners, pilots, and drivers can use. Commercial use won’t be available until 2010.
The U.S. GPS system is run by the military. Europe’s system will remain under civilian control, and is expected to be more accurate than the U.S. system. Last year, the U.S. and the EU agreed to have similar operating standards for each of their systems. The agreement alleviated concerns that Europe’s system would create security problems for GPS in the U.S.
Europe’s system, Galileo, will also be compatible to Russia’s GLONASS system, which currently consists of 17 satellites, following a three-satellite launch this past Sunday.