Astrium Galileo IOV Satellites Begin Journey to October Soyuz Launch
[Satellite TODAY Insider 09-15-11] The first two Astrium-built Galileo In-Orbit Validation (IOV) satellites were accepted by the European Space Agency (ESA) as part of a quality acceptance review – marking a significant milestone in the European flagship program, Astrium announced Sept. 14.
The first of four Astrium IOV satellites to form part of the Galileo constellation arrived at the European Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana ahead of its scheduled launch on an Arianespace Soyuz launch vehicle in October.
The satellite was designed and manufactured by Astrium Germany, with Astrium U.K. overseeing the development and integration of the spacecraft’s navigation payload, and assembled and tested by Thales Alenia Space Italy. The second Astrium-built IOV satellite will join the first spacecraft before both are launched on the first Soyuz flight from French Guiana in late October. The third and forth IOV satellites, which are also being developed under Astrium, will be launched into orbit in 2012.
Europe’s global navigation Galileo satellite system aims to provide the region with accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control. The four Galileo IOV satellites will be placed into 23,000-km. circular orbits. Four satellites are the minimum required to provide positioning information.
Arianespace’s Starsem subsidiary orbited the two predecessor Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element (GIOVE) satellites using Soyuz vehicles that operated from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. GIOVE-A was orbited in December 2005, followed by GIOVE-B in April 2008. Both spacecraft were launched to secure the frequency slots for the Galileo constellation and validate key space-based navigation technologies.
“Astrium’s teams in Kourou are now committed to ensuring that the first IOV satellites are readied for launch and will continue to work closely with our partners ESA and the European Union in ensuring the successful roll-out of the Galileo system,” Astrium Satellites CEO Evert Dudok said in a statement.
The definition phase and the development and IOV phase of the Galileo program were co-funded by ESA and the European Commission (EC). The full operational capability phase of the program is managed and fully funded by the EC as part of a delegation agreement with ESA to act as procurement agent on behalf of the commission.
Astrium also is involved in the Galileo Ground Segment and System Support activities. The company was recently awarded a 73.5 million euro ($100.9 million) contract by ESA on behalf of the European Union to act as prime contractor for the Galileo Full Operational Capability Ground Control Segment (GCS). The GCS contract covers the provision of GCS facilities for the operation of the Galileo constellation and will be led by an Astrium U.K.