The appointment of Rainer Grohe as Director of the Galileo Joint Undertaking marks a further key step forward for Galileo, the first civil global satellite navigation programme.
“I am delighted at Rainer Grohe’s appointment to manage the first Joint Undertaking established by the European Space Agency and the European Commission”, said Antonio Rodotà, ESA’s Director General. “His industrial experience will be invaluable to us in carrying out this programme, which can now get fully into its stride for the benefit of everyone in Europe.”
The Administrative Board of the Galileo Joint Undertaking endorsed the appointment on Monday 16 June in Brussels. This means that the JU can now proceed with the various steps towards setting up the Galileo network, which will give users in Europe - and throughout the world - a precise and secure satellite positioning and navigation system.
The Joint Undertaking’s main task is to prepare for the Galileo programme deployment and operational phase, which should culminate in the selection of a concession holder to take charge of running the future Galileo operating company. That private entity will take over to finish deployment of the constellation in orbit and finalise installation of the ground segment necessary to complete the system. It will then manage the operational phase.
In the near term, under the development and in-orbit validation phase, ESA is responsible for the launch of a first experimental satellite scheduled for September 2005. This will serve the dual purpose of securing the frequencies reserved for Galileo until June 2006 by the International Telecommunications Union and testing of the new technologies. To minimise the risks, two contracts will be awarded to industry by early July to build two separate satellites. Three or four test satellites will subsequently be launched for validation of the system around 2006/2007.
All this adds up to a magnificent challenge for ESA and the Commission together with the Galileo Joint Undertaking: achieving European independence in the strategically-important area of satellite navigation, a sector having numerous economic spin-offs.
The core of the Galileo system is its constellation of 30 satellites (27 operational, 3 spare) circling in medium earth orbit in three planes inclined at 56° to the equator at 23616 km altitude. This will be provide excellent global coverage. Two centres will be set up in Europe to control satellite operations and manage the navigation system.
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