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Galileo satellite GIOVE-B marks its first year in orbit


Ottobrunn.- The GIOVE-B navigation satellite has successfully completed its first year in orbit. The 500 kg satellite, which was built by an industrial team led by Astrium under contract to the European Space Agency, is the second of two in-orbit demonstration missions for Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system.

* Astrium demonstrates the technical feasibilities for Galileo

* Long-term measurements conducted on signal quality
* High-precision atomic clocks provide superior performance

Dr. Reinhold Lutz, Director of Navigation, Astrium said: “The success of GIOVE-B proves Astrium’s expertise in developing complex navigation satellites. This mission has enabled engineers to carry out the necessary in-orbit tests of the new technologies required for Galileo and lead the way for a navigation system that is vital to both Europe’s economic and technological future.”

GIOVE-B was launched into a Medium Earth Orbit on board a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on April 27, 2008. After completion of an intensive in-orbit test campaign, the satellite was declared fully operational in July 2008.

Since then, GIOVE-B has been broadcasting its navigation test signals around the Earth to ground receivers, allowing engineers and researchers the opportunity to perform long-term measurements of the signal quality. Notably, GIOVE-B is the first satellite to transmit the Multiplexed Binary Offset Coding modulation standard from space, thus paving the way for its future roll-out on Galileo.

The GIOVE-B satellite carries three high-precision atomic clocks, including a passive hydrogen maser - the most accurate time reference ever orbited in space, with an accuracy of better than 1 nanosecond per day. The in-orbit behaviour of the maser has proven to be outstanding, boosting confidence that this and other critical new technologies will deliver the superior performance expected of the Galileo system.

Astrium was the prime contractor and navigation payload lead for GIOVE-B in Germany and the UK respectively. Thales Alenia Space (Italy) provided the support for satellite assembly, integration and test.

Galileo is a joint European Space Agency and European Union programme and will comprise a constellation of 30 dedicated satellites coupled with an associated ground support network offering users satellite navigation with a positioning accuracy of less than a metre. Galileo is due to become fully operational in 2013.


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