ESA signs contract for new generation of Galileo

Acting on behalf of the European Commission, ESA signed two contracts for a total amount of 1.47 billion euros, to design and build the first batch of the second generation of navigation satellites Europe ?? s Galileo.

Following an intense open competition process, these contracts were awarded to Thales Alenia space (Italy) and Airbus Defense & Space (Germany) to create two independent families of satellites representing a total of 12 Galileo second generation satellites.

“Galileo is a major success for Europe, and these contracts guarantee its sustainability, ?? comments Paul Verhoef, director of navigation at ESA. “The second generation of Galileo will represent a further step forward with the use of many innovative technologies to ensure unprecedented precision, robustness and flexibility of the system for the benefit of users around the world.

Galileo is the global civil satellite navigation constellation in Europe, currently the world’s most accurate satellite navigation system, delivering meter-scale accuracy to over 2 billion users worldwide. With improved accuracy, the new generation should be able to offer decimeter-scale precision positioning to everyone.

These second generation (G2) Galileo satellites will revolutionize the Galileo fleet, joining the 26 first generation Galileo satellites in orbit today plus the 12 ?? Batch 3 ?? satellites currently in production and testing. The first launch of these Batch 3 satellites will take place later this year.

The new G2 satellites will be built in a short period of time and their first launch is expected in less than four years, which will allow them to begin their operations in space as quickly as possible.

The G2 satellites will gradually join the existing constellation, but will be much larger than the existing satellites. Using electric propulsion for the first time and housing an improved navigation antenna, their fully digital payloads are designed to be easily reconfigured in orbit, allowing them to actively respond to evolving user needs with new signals and services.

New on-board technologies include electric propulsion to propel satellites from the orbit in which they will be launched to final operational orbits, allowing two satellites to be launched at the same time despite their increased mass. The inter-satellite links between the satellites will allow them to regularly check their performance and reduce their dependence on the availability of ground installations.

The satellites will also have a more powerful navigation antenna and advanced jamming and impersonation protection mechanisms to protect Galileo signals.

Thanks to G2, it will be possible for navigation devices such as smartphones to acquire the signal faster and access services faster when switching on their devices, with less energy consumption. This will open up new avenues for many new devices to deliver positioning capabilities, a real revolution for emerging self-driving cars, self-driving drones and the entire “Internet of Things”.

G2 will also provide enhanced search and rescue services, including two-way communications with the person in difficulty. And a new emergency communication capability will allow authorities to warn users in affected areas of impending dangers such as tsunamis or earthquakes. These warnings could be sent anywhere on Earth, independent of telecommunications providers, using Galileo navigation signals as a one-way messaging service.

Galileo: finding our way: Access the video

Overall, the G2 satellites will incorporate many technological upgrades, developed under the research and development programs of the EU and ESA. But the Galileo G2 system will be the result of a series of seamless upgrades and modifications to the G1 system currently in place, with no disruption to any of its services.

The Galileo system will be operated by the EU Space Program Agency, EUSPA, based in Prague. ESA and EUSPA join forces to develop and operate Galileo.

ESA is in charge of the design, development, supply and qualification of Galileo satellites and the associated ground infrastructure on behalf of the European Union, owner of the system.

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