ESA Awards Two Galileo Contracts Worth $113M
The contracts for the first two Galileo satellites were signed on Friday at the European Space Agency‘s research and technology center in Noordwijk, Holland. The contracts are for experimental satellites, forerunners of the system’s in-orbit validation phase. The first satellite is to be launched during the second quarter of 2005 in order to secure the frequencies reserved for the Galileo system at the International Telecommunication Union.
One contract, worth 27.9 million euros ($31.5 million), has been awarded to British firm Surrey Space Technology Ltd. The main task of this test satellite, which will have a mass on lift-off of 400 kilograms, is to transmit the Galileo signals from one of the orbits to be used by the planned 30-satellite constellation.
To minimize risks of delays, a second contract worth 72.3 million euros ($82 million) to build another test satellite has been placed with the consortium Galileo Industries. This satellite, which will have a mass of 525 kilograms on lift-off, will be more representative of the four to be used to validate the Galileo system in orbit. With a payload very similar to that of the satellites that will form the complete constellation, it will serve to validate all the technologies to be flown. It also might be used in the system validation phase itself. Both satellites are expected to be launched by Starsem, the company which markets the Soyuz launcher from Baikonur.