Giove-A, the first element of the Galileo global satellite navigation system, took off successfully from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, the European Space Agency said.
The satellite is now in orbit and its solar panels are deployed correctly, the agency reported.
Galileo is a European initiative that complements the U.S.-operated GPS (Global Positioning System) service. Like GPS, it will transmit synchronized signals from a constellation of satellites. Mobile terminals on the ground, at sea or in the air can use these signals to calculate their position, wherever they are in the world.
Giove-A will be joined by a second satellite, Giove-B, in 2006, and together they will be used to validate the design of the Galileo system.