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Astrium switches on the first Galileo* signals from space: Giove-B is "on air"


* Satellite’s payload operating perfectly
* High-precision signal for final tests
* Mission puts Galileo* ‘on air’ for the first time

Fucino.- Astrium with the Giove-B navigation satellite, has started operations in orbit exactly on schedule, and has been transmitting the highly precise Galileo* signal since 02.05 a.m. o’clock on 7 May. An important milestone on the road to a European navigation system has thus been attained. In the course of the ‘In-Orbit Validation’ (IOV) phase, lasting until 2010, the four navigation satellites already being built by prime contractor Astrium will be deployed in space.

“Giove-B is an important chapter in the Galileo* success story. This satellite shows what European navigation technology can do for us Europeans and for the rest of the world. Over and above its actual mission, Giove-B is a sign of european technical independence and innovative capabilities,” said Evert Dudok, CEO of Astrium Satellites. “Together with its customers and partners, Astrium has mastered all the challenges and learned many useful things that will help us to optimise the implementation of Galileo*. Our goal is to set new standards in terms of quality and efficient implementation,” Dudok continued.

The mission is going exactly according to plan. The Soyuz rocket, which was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome at 00:16 (CEST) on 27 April, placed Giove-B in the Galileo* orbit with its upper stage. The experts at the control centre in Fucino then commanded the navigation satellite into its specified operational configuration and tested its individual system functions to make sure they were still in full working order after the stress of the launch. Once the tests on Giove-B had been successfully completed, its payload was activated and the first signal was transmitted exploiting the unsurpassed accuracy of the world’s preciser clock, the S-PHM.

Giove-B demonstrates the functionality and advanced technology of European satellite navigation in the best possible way. The key components of Galileo*, especially the innovative Space Passive Hydrogen Maser (S-PHM) and the upgraded signal generator, are enjoying their premiere in space on board the satellite provided by prime contractor Astrium in Ottobrunn, Germany. The navigation payload is broadcasting a high-precision Galileo* signal which is now being comprehensively measured and analyzed. As well as designing and manufacturing the payload, Astrium in Portsmouth (UK) was also responsible for the development, installation and test of the Ground Satellite Control system at the operations centre in Fucino, Italy, as well as at the IOT (In Orbit Test) station in Redu, Belgium, including the antenna.

Giove-B is now already broadcasting signals that are fully representative of the Galileo* system. Over the coming weeks and months, a series of intensive tests will be carried out, in which the Galileo technology will be put through its paces in a variety of different configurations. These tests, too, will require the expert support of Astrium, as did the launch and commissioning phase, in order to confirm that the satellite is functioning perfectly, and to be able to incorporate all in-flight experiences in the production of the IOV and FOC (Fully Operational Capability) satellites. Particular attention is being given to all payload elements but specifically to the first space maser for precise time measurement and the Galileo* signal generator. Astrium offers all the technologies and services required for setting up the European satellite navigation system. The company played a decisive role in the development of a sustainable, integrated system architecture, designed the space segment and the ground control facilities, and will bring with its partners the development programme to a successful conclusion. Astrium won recognition in all relevant system studies on the strength of its all-round expertise.


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