Galileo Update


Feb 2016 | No Comment

10 Productive Years in Orbit for GIOVE-A, Galileo’s Pathfinder

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), UK is marking the 10th year of in-orbit operations from its GIOVE-A satellite, the pathfinder mission for Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation programme. Since retirement from its original mission for the European Space Agency, SSTL has operated the spacecraft at 23,300km where it provides valuable data about the radiation environment in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), and an on-board experimental GPS receiver is used to map out the antenna patterns of GPS satellites for use in planning navigation systems for future high altitude missions in Geostationary orbit (GEO), and beyond into deep space.

John Paffett, Director of Telecommunications and Navigation at SSTL, summed up GIOVE-A’s achievements by commenting “GIOVE-A is a milestone mission for SSTL which has demonstrated that our pragmatic approach and innovative, low cost, small satellites can deliver critical mission requirements for landmark space programmes, such as Galileo.”

GIOVE-A was designed, built and tested by SSTL in only 30 months for the European Space Agency (ESA) and was launched on 28 December 2005 with a mission to secure vital frequency filings, generate the first Galileo navigation signals in space, characterise a prototype rubidium atomic clock, and model the radiation environment of Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) for future Galileo spacecraft. GIOVE-A was the first European satellite launched into the demanding MEO radiation environment, where it has greatly out-performed its 27 month design lifetime, and is still in operational use.

In 2008 GIOVE-A was declared a full mission success by the European Space Agency and the following year the pathfinder satellite was retired from its original successful extended mission and manoeuvred into a higher “graveyard” orbit. SSTL then took over spacecraft operations from ESA and, at its new altitude of 23,300km, GIOVE-A has continued to provide valuable in-orbit data, both on the MEO environment and also from SSTL’s SGR-GEO, an experimental GPS receiver.

European Space Agency dumps Russian Soyuz launchers

The European Space Agency (ESA) renounces in 2016 the use of Russian a Russian Soyuz-ST carrier rocket in bearing the European Galileo satellite navigation system to the orbit, according to ESA chief Johann- Dietrich Werner, TASS reports.

The preference will be given to Europe’s own heavy-lift Ariane-5 launcher, Werner said recently. The launch from the French Guiana Space Center is scheduled for October. The heavy class Ariane-5 can bring four satellites in one trip, while Soyuz was only able to deliver two satellites in a single launch.

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