A trans-European production line is progressively transforming the Galileo satnav system into a working reality.
The 22 satellites so far contracted to join the four already in orbit have their payloads manufactured at Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd in the UK, which are then integrated to their satellite platforms at OHB in Germany.
Finally, each complete satellite is tested at ESTEC in the Netherlands for launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.
However this ‘space segment’ is only one of a number of work packages assigned to European industry, through which the Galileo system as a whole is being put together.
Far-flung ground stations and system infrastructure are being assembled in parallel with the satellites themselves, amounting to a complex, multi-faceted effort:
- Thales Alenia Space Italy is responsible for the overall design of the combined space and ground-based Galileo system
- Airbus Defence & Space (formerly Astrium Germany) contributes the satellite control facilities, known as the Ground Control Segment
- Thales Alenia Space France oversees the navigation service facilities, called the Ground Mission Segment
- Airbus Defence & Space (formerly Astrium UK) led construction of the first four satellites, with Thales Alenia Space Italy responsible for integrating the satellites, and Airbus D&S in the UK providing the navigation payloads
- OHB in Germany and SSTL in the UK are building the next 22, with more to be procured in future
- Arianespace is contracted to launch Galileo, using both Soyuz and Ariane 5
- Spaceopal is carrying out the operations of the Galileo system. This company is a joint undertaking between Italian company Telespazio and German firm Gesellschaft für Raumfahrtanwendungen (GfR) mbH, part of the DLR German Aerospace Center
- Inmarsat provides in-orbit test support.
Last update: 18 July 2014