15 October 2012 – The second pair of IOV (In-Orbit Validation) satellites forming part of Europe’s Galileo navigation system, developed and manufactured by Astrium, the European leading space technology company, have been launched aboard a Soyuz rocket from the European Space Centre in French Guiana and are healthy in orbit.
With this initial constellation of four IOV satellites, Astrium has achieved an important milestone in putting the core of the Galileo system in place, having driven the entire design phase. The two latest IOV satellites will soon enter into service in orbit alongside IOV satellites 1 and 2 launched in October 2011. The constellation will now be activated in order to validate the Galileo system. With these four satellites, launched into two different orbit planes, Galileo will prove it can deliver ultra-precise three-dimensional positioning.
Following the announcement of the launch Astrium Satellites CEO Evert Dudok said: “Astrium’s teams have been providing their unique know-how and experience to the Galileo programme for more than ten years, since the initial definition of the system and the entry into service of the GIOVE experimental satellites. With the successful launch of the four IOV satellites, we have accomplished our task of laying the foundations for the European navigation system. And our involvement does not end here: Astrium and its subsidiaries will be contributing half of the workshare for the next satellites, delivering the Ground Control Segment (GCS), taking part in system support activities and adapting Ariane 5 for the launch of 4 Galileo satellites at a time.”
The Galileo IOV satellites were designed and built by an Astrium team led from Ottobrunn (Germany). The state-of-the-art navigation payload was designed, integrated and tested at the company’s payload centre of excellence in Portsmouth (UK).
In addition to overseeing the development of the Galileo IOV satellites, Astrium has developed and installed the Galileo Ground Control Segment (GCS) which is used by the operations team to control and command the Satellite constellation in orbit. Furthermore Astrium is a key partner in the System Support activities. In February 2012, Astrium also received a contract from ESA to adapt the Ariane 5 launcher for a Galileo mission involving the simultaneous launch of four satellites.
The definition phase and the development and In-Orbit Validation phase of the Galileo programme were conducted by ESA and co-funded by it and the European Commission.
The Full Operational Capability phase of the Galileo programme is managed and fully funded by the European Commission. The Commission and ESA have signed a delegation agreement under which ESA is authorised to act as the design and procurement agent on behalf of the Commission.
Galileo is Europe’s first global satellite navigation system under civilian control. It will supply ultra-reliable and precise positioning data worldwide.
The launch of these two satellites completes a series where five Astrium built satellites have been launched within a one month period. The first to launch was SPOT 6 on September 9th, followed by Metop B on September 17th, and Astra 2F on September 28th. In total, six Astrium satellites (Yahsat 1B is the sixth) have been launched since January 2012 and three more are expected to be launched before the end of the year: Pléiades 1B , Eutelsat 70B and Skynet 5D.
Astrium is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the third in the world. In 2011, Astrium had a turnover close to €5 billion and 18,000 employees worldwide, mainly in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Astrium is the sole European company that covers the whole range of civil and defence space systems and services. Its three business units are: Astrium Space Transportation for launchers and orbital infrastructure; Astrium Satellites for spacecraft and ground segment; Astrium Services for comprehensive fixed and mobile end-to-end solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, high security and broadcast satellite communications equipment and systems, and bespoke geo-information services, worldwide. Astrium is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2011, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 49.1 billion and employed a workforce of over 133,000.