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Astrium Successfully Concludes Galileo* In-Orbit Test

Astrium Successfully Concludes Galileo In-Orbit Test

Giove-B delivers precise results in space.Tests confirm spacecraft’s reliability and readiness for IOV. Source: Astrium. Noordwijk, July 3, 2008.

Glove-B. Astrium © Photo.


During approximately two months of in-space testing, known as the In-Orbit Test (IOT) phase, the Giove-B navigation satellite has performed excellently.

Engineers from Astrium, the prime contractor for Giove-B, presented the results of the tests at the European Space Research and Technology Centre ESTEC in Noordwijk, Holland. The key components of the Galileo system [1], particularly the new signal generator and the extremely accurate Passive Hydrogen Maser atomic clock, proved to be perfectly fit for purpose, even when tested under real-time conditions. The European Space Agency ESA, on whose behalf the mission is being conducted, confirmed the successful conclusion of the test phase during the In-Orbit Test Review (ITR) which took place on 3 July 2008.

Dr. Reinhold Lutz, Astrium’s Senior Vice President Navigation said: “Now that we have checked out every last detail of Giove-B’s real capabilities, we can confidently say that the satellite is operating and transmitting perfectly. The successful results of every single test performed prove that the platform and its payload are ready to go into service. The quality of the signals and the accuracy of the atomic clocks provide the best possible evidence that the Galileo technology really does deliver the added value that we had hoped to obtain from the system. We are also very proud of the world’s most advanced navigation satellite. As the test confirms, our company now has the necessary technological skills to take the spacecraft on through the in-orbit validation phase and continue building the system up to Full Operational Capability.”

Giove-B is the first satellite to carry Galileo technology on board, and so lead on to the In-Orbit Validation (IOV) phase of the European satellite navigation system. It is equipped with completely new instruments and standards, which have now demonstrated their distinct advantages in space:

One of the two key components is the signal generator, which is already transmitting standard signals defined for Galileo. The tests involved running through a variety of scenarios such as switching from the first payload chain to the second, and employing different combinations of frequencies. Ground-based receiver antennas are used to record the signal quality, accuracy and modulation.

The other key component of the satellite, the Space Passive Hydrogen Maser (S-PHM) atomic clock, which keeps time ten times more accurately than the rubidium atomic clocks, functioned perfectly. The instrumentation on Giove-B is configured in such a way that the output of the atomic clock is handed down the entire transmission chain, producing highly accurate navigation signals, which are the hallmark of the Galileo system.

One particularly revealing set of results was obtained by comparing the satellite’s performance in space with its assessment during tests on the ground. The results achieved by Giove-B matched our customer’s specifications perfectly.

Astrium has successfully mastered the challenges associated with the new generation of navigation satellites. The Giove-B satellite meets all requirements for stable operation over a lifetime of 24 months, thus fulfilling its mission as a Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element.

The Giove-B mission is continuing according to plan. Between now and 2010 four more navigation satellites, currently being built by prime contractor Astrium, will go into operation in space as part of the system’s In-Orbit Validation (IOV) phase.

Astrium provides all the technologies and services required to set 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 work with its partners to bring the development programme to a successful conclusion. Astrium won recognition in all relevant system studies on the strength of its all-round expertise.

Astrium, a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2007, Astrium had a turnover of €3.5 billion and 12,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Astrium Space Transportation for launchers and orbital infrastructure, Astrium Satellites for spacecraft and ground segmentation, and its wholly owned subsidiary Astrium Services for the development and delivery of satellite services.

EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2007, EADS generated revenues of €39.1 billion and employed a workforce of more than 116, 000.

[1] Galileo – the European global navigation satellite system.

Contacts for the media:

  • Matthieu Duvelleroy -- EADS Astrium (FR) -- Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32

  • Jeremy Close -- EADS Astrium (UK) -- Tel.: +44 (0)1438 77 38 72

  • Mathias  Pikelj -- EADS Astrium (GER) -- Tel.: +49 (0) 7545 89123

  • Francisco Lechón -- EADS Astrium (ESP) -- Tel.: +34 (0) 91 586 37 41

  • www.astrium.eads.net


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).