[Satellite News 02-06-12] The European Commission (EC) has finalizing $400 million in contracts to build eight more Galileo navigation network spacecraft and adapt Arianespace’s Ariane 5 heavy-lift launcher to deliver four satellites to orbit in a single flight, officials confirmed Feb. 3.
The EC selected German manufacturer OHB System to build the eight Galileo satellites in a deal valued at approximately 250 million euros ($328 million). The European Union (EU) will pay about 31 million euros ($41 million) for each satellite. The OHB System agreement adds eight satellites to the 14 spacecraft already awarded to the company. Combined, the 22 satellites represent the first full-operational capability (FOC) phase of the Galileo program.
The eight new satellites will be delivered to the EC in 2015, following OHB System’s completion of the initial 14 FOC spacecraft. OHB System CEO Marco Fuchs hailed the award as an enormous achievement for his company and an acknowledgement of its performance on the Galileo FOC program.
“We have been able to justify the trust placed in us by the EC and the European Space Agency (ESA). Today’s decision underscores the determination of all the parties involved to continue advancing the program as successfully as before,” Fuchs said in a statement.
OHB System is providing the satellite platforms and conducting final assembly of the spacecraft in Germany. U.K. manufacturer and EADS Astrium subsidiary Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) will build the navigation payloads for each Galileo satellite.
“SSTL has played a key role in the development of the Galileo program for nine years and we have the commitment, experience and track record to deliver this substantial contract,” SSTL CEO Matt Perkins said in a statement. “We are delighted to have been selected with our partner, OHB, to continue to play our part in building Europe’s operational navigation system.”
Perkins confirmed that the company’s first FOC satellite will be ready for launch by the end of this year and that OHB would complete one FOC satellite every 45 days following.
The EC also inked separate agreements with Arianespace for three launch options on the Ariane 5 worth about 30 million euros ($39 million).
French manufacturer Astrium received another $39 million EC contract to adapt the Ariane 5 ES launcher to carry four Galileo payloads by late 2014. ESA will monitor the program, which will integrate a special dispenser to deploy the Galileo spacecraft into 14,400-mile-high orbits.
A total of 18 Galileo satellites are scheduled for launch by the end of 2014, which ESA said would be enough to offer limited navigation services. The entire 30-satellite Galileo constellation is currently on track to reach full operations by 2019.
EC Vice President of Industry and Entrepreneurship Antonio Tajani said that finalizing the group of contracts has kept the Galileo program on time and within budget.
“I am proud that we could manage to speed up the delivery of satellites and launchers,” Tajani said. “This means that Europeans will be able to exploit the opportunities of enhanced satellite navigation provided by Galileo in 2014. I am also proud to see that Europe has a highly competitive space industry capable of realizing such an ambitious high-tech program.”
Astrium is managing the EC’s first four Galileo satellites, which constitutes the program’s In-Orbit Validation (IOV) phase. The first two IOV satellites, built by Thales Alenia Space under a subcontract with Astrium, were launched on an Arianespace Soyuz rocket in October 2011. The remaining two satellites are set for launch in July or August or 2012.
The EU’s is expected to order additional satellites and procure launchers for the rest of the Galileo fleet during its next budget cycle, which covers the period between 2014 and 2021. Launch contracts for the next eight Galileo satellites will likely not be finalized until then, according to EC officials. To date, the EC has purchased a total of 26 Galileo satellites.