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The Galileo satellite navigation system took another important step forward on Tuesday with the go-ahead being given to build its first four spacecraft.
The satellites will be launched in 2008 with the whole constellation of 30 expected in orbit by the decade's end.
The "authorisation to proceed" came with the signing of a 150m-euro contract between the European Space Agency (Esa) and Galileo Industries.
The latter has been charged with building the system's infrastructure.
Galileo will be compatible and interoperable with the US Global Positioning System (GPS), improving the accuracy and reliability of navigation and timing signals received across the planet.
Expected to be more than 400 million sat-nav users by 2015
European aerospace and electronics firms say it will create more than 100,000 jobs
Rescue services will be able to pinpoint the exact location of a car driver's accident
Will allow someone to find their way in an unfamiliar city using their mobile phone