As expected, transport ministers representing 27 European Union (EU) governments voted unanimously last Friday to finance the Galileo satellite navigation network with public funds, officially taking fiscal and operational control of the project away from an industry consortium that had been tasked with deploying the U.S. $4.2 billion system. Officials disagreed, however, on how the public funds required for the project will be raised, with the final decision on that issue to be deferred until later this year. Following its anticipated debut in 2012, the 30- satellite Galileo system is expected to rival the U.S. Global Positioning System. Under the original plan for the Galileo network, two thirds of the estimated $4.2 billion cost was to be contributed by a private sector consortium—consisting of Inmarsat of Great Britain, Finmeccanica of Italy, Hispasat of Spain and Thales of France, among others—that would build and operate the system while sharing in its profits. However, members of the consortium were unable to agree on management and other issues by a May deadline, forcing the EU ministers to revoke the concession. As a spokeswoman for the European Commission (EC) confirmed the decision of the ministers to “abandon the public-private partnership and start again from scratch,” German Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee told reporters after Friday’s vote that “we want to try out all the possibilities of public sector financing, including financing via the European Space Agency (ESA).” (Funded by 17 EU governments, the ESA is tasked with implementing Europe’s space program.)