First Galileo satellite to be presented at ESA/ESTEC

GSTB-V2/A in orbit
27 October 2005

ESA PR 49-2005. Galileo, Europe’s novel satellite navigation system, is getting ready for launch, preparing the way for the delivery of a new and advanced global civil positioning service for the benefit of citizens in Europe and worldwide.

The first two satellites in the Galileo constellation, trail-blazers dubbed GSTB-V2/A and GSTB-V2/B, are at an advanced stage of preparation, ready to make the first step (*) under the In-Orbit Validation phase of the Galileo programme. Both are currently in the last-tests phase before commencing their mission into orbit. The first, GSTB-V2/A, is at present undergoing its final environmental test campaign (solar simulation, acoustic and vibration checks) on the test facilities at ESA's ESTEC centre in Noordwijk (The Netherlands). The second, GSTB-V2/B, is undergoing its final integration tests at the Alenia Spazio facilities in Rome (Italy).

The two launches will be performed by a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome, the first by the end of 2005. The second launch is planned for later on in 2006.

On Wednesday 9 November, media representatives will have a unique opportunity to get an in-depth Galileo background briefing given by several experts. After the briefing, Ms Karla Peijs, Dutch Minister of Transport, Public Works & Water Management, and Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director General, will share with the media an opportunity to see the first spacecraft at ESA’s Test Centre at ESTEC. At the same time, Minister Peijs will announce the chosen names of the two satellites.

The programme at ESA/ESTEC will include:

11.00 Arrival and registration at ESA/ESTEC
11.15 Opening address
(Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA Director General)
11.25 “ESA - Discovery and Competitiveness” (video)
11.30 ESA's Navigation programmes
(Giuseppe Viriglio, ESA Director of European Union and Industrial programmes)
11.45 Galileo: Europe's vision becoming a reality”
(Representative of the Galileo Joint Undertaking)
12.00 The Galileo In-Orbit Validation phase
(Javier Benedicto, Galileo project manager)
12.30 Questions & Answers
13.00 Buffet lunch
14.30 ESA Director General welcomes Ms Karla Peijs, Minister of Transport,
Public Works & Water Management, The Netherlands
14.35 Address by Minister Peijs
14.45 "The EU perspective"
(François Lamoureux, Director General for Energy and Transport, European Commission)
15.15 Visit to inspect the first European navigation satellite at the ESTEC Test Centre
and official name-giving ceremony
16.00 Interview opportunities with the Minister and senior ESA staff
16.30 End of event

Media representatives wishing to attend are kindly requested to fill in the attached Registration Form and fax it back to:
ESA/ESTEC Communication Office,
Fax. + 31 71 565 57 28 (Phone + 31 71 565 3006)
by Friday 4 November.

(*)This “first step” in the Galileo programme is known as the Galileo System Test Bed (GSTB) and comprises the launch of two satellites to secure the frequencies allocated to Galileo by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and to test in-orbit-critical technologies and the novel navigation signals specifically developed for this programme.

For further information:

Dominique Detain
D/ EUI Communications Manager
+ 33 (0) 1 53 69 77 26
+ 33 (0) 1 53 69 7286 (fax)

ESA/ESTEC Corporate Communication Office
Phone + 31 71 565 3006
Fax + 33 1 71 565 5728

Background Note for Editors

GSTB-V2/A in orbit (artist's impression)
GSTB-V2/A in orbit (artist's impression)

The GSTB-V2/A satellite currently undergoing tests at ESA/ESTEC is being developed by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (UK). It is intended to fulfil the following main objectives: securing frequency filings, validation of key technologies such as rubidium clocks, characterisation of the orbital environment and signal broadcasting experimentation using two transmission channels in parallel.

GSTB-V2/B, which is intended to fulfil similar objectives, is being developed by Galileo Industries, a European consortium including Alcatel Space Industries (F), Alenia Spazio (I), Astrium GmbH (D), Astrium Ltd (UK) and Galileo Sistemas y Servicios (E). The satellite provides for complementary features such as a passive hydrogen maser clock and transmission using three simultaneous transmission channels.

The Galileo programme is being implemented in three phases:

  • Definition
  • Development and In-Orbit Validation
  • Full Deployment and Operations

The In-Orbit Validation phase will be completed by deploying a constellation of four satellites (the minimum number required to guarantee the exact position/time at test locations) along with the provision of a number of associated ground stations. After that, the Full Deployment phase will cover the manufacturing and launch of the 26 additional satellites and the completion of the ground segment, an extensive network of stations and service centres.

Galileo is a joint initiative of the European Commission and the European Space Agency. It is the first satellite positioning and navigation system specifically designed for civilian purposes and will offer state-of-the-art services with outstanding performance in terms of accuracy, integrity, continuity and availability.

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