MUNICH, Germany ESN Industries, the consortium established to coordinate development and tests of the Galileo satellite project, is about to be phased out, reports German newspaper Handelsblatt. The move reflects a compromise recently agreed upon by the parties involved.
ESN (European Satellite Navigation) Industries was launched in 2000 under the name Galileo Industries, but had to change its name after a legal dispute on trademark issues. It represents a consortium in which the satellite manufacturers and suppliers for the Galileo project joined to bring forward the project's initial technology phase.
According to the Handelsblatt report, the negotiations among the consortium members now are providing for a cancellation of the group, referring to a company spokesperson. However, a final decision has not yet taken, the spokesperson said. On inquiry of EE Times Europe at the company's two headquarters in Munich and Rome, nobody was available to comment.
The move is a consequence of the changed balance of powers within the consortium: While initially the British-French-German joint venture EADS Astrium held the largest share of 38 percent, last year Italian Alenia and Alcatel have merged under the roof of French Thales group, significantly changing the equilibrium between the consortium members and leading to the potentially imminent decision to wind up the company.
ESNs tasks will be carried out by the European Space Agency (ESA), according to a compromise agreed upon by the German government. The Handelsblatt report connects this agreement to the fact that probably EADS Astrium will take the lead in building the Galileo satellites while Thales and its Italian subsidiaries will equip the earth stations and British and Spanish consortium members will receive contracts according to their share in the group. The central question which company will be responsible for system integration remains open.
The 160 ESN employees will return to their earlier employers who had delegated them to the consortium.