Secret room tender delays Galileo HQ transfer

EU Galileo navigation system Prague HQ project delayed

Secret room tender delays Galileo HQ transfer

The highest story of a building on the bank of Vltava in the Czech capital’s district called Holešovice will become a super secret administrative center of the EU Galileo navigation system, protected even against leaser beam eavesdropping.

“GSA (GNSS Supervisory Authority) wants to have three stories. Two of them cause no problems. The last one is being reconstructed into a secret story. Some adjustments are taking place there that need to be in accordance with the EU and (Czech) National Security Authority directives,” said Karel Dobeš, a Czech government deputy for Galileo, to Aktualne.cz.

On Friday this week, first Gallileo satelites are scheduled to be launched into orbit.

The Czech Republic has been lobbying for moving Galileo’s administrative base to Prague for years –  it will be the first EU institution to have its seat in the country. Together with Radio Free Europe, the GSA will be the most important international institution headquatered in Prague.

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According to the information available to Aktualne.cz, it was the security requirements of the GSA that delayed the process of transferring the Galileo operation center from Brussels to Prague.

Initially, it was believed that the building will not have to be reconstructed at all. However, a source well-informed about the project said to Aktualne.cz that a new “secret” conference hall will be built.

“For example, it must be assured that nobody will be able to eavesdrop through the windows using a laser beam,” the source said.

The Finance Ministry is now preparing a tender for the reconstruction of the building into a facility protected against all kinds of espionage. Everything about the tender is secret, as suggested by the National Security Authority. “The secrecy was required by the GSA,” explained the ministry’s spokesman Ondřej Jakob. Neither has been disclosed the cost of the tender.

Galileo is supposed to become a flagship of the European Space Agency (ESA) and, in effect, of the EU in general. One of its purposes is to beat not only the US Global Positioning System (GPS), but also Russia’s own emerging navigation system called Glonass.

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