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SSTL welcomes a fresh start for Galileo

12.06.2007
Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) welcomes the agreement reached at the European Transport Council on 8th June on how to move ahead with the Galileo satellite navigation system. The deployment of the system will now be funded by the public sector. "Ministers decided to abandon the public-private partnership and start again from scratch," said European Commission transport spokesman Michele Cercone

The agreement calls for more competition to be introduced so that the system can be procured quickly for rapid deployment of Galileo by 2012. This means that more innovative and efficient approaches can be adopted and that a wider range of European small and medium sized companies can contribute to the success of Galileo. This will also bring tangible benefits to the governments and the tax-payers investing in the Galileo system, and ultimately to the end user.

The agreement also calls for the procurement strategy to 'reflect progress made so far'. Under a €28M contract signed in the second half of 2003, SSTL has already supplied the European Space Agency (ESA) with the very first Galileo satellite, GIOVE-A. GIOVE-A's primary mission was to broadcast Galileo signals from space so that Europe could claim the frequencies filed for Galileo with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Under the rapidly-paced ESA contract, the satellite was designed, built, tested and launched before the end of 2005 – on-time and on-budget.

Following the signing of the resolution, Group Executive Chairman of SSTL, Sir Martin Sweeting, said: "Through the GIOVE-A projects SSTL has already shown how small and medium sized companies can play a very significant role in Galileo. Over the coming weeks SSTL will be exploring ways of bringing a much-needed fresh approach to the implementation of Galileo".

In January 2006, the first Galileo signals were transmitted from the satellite and in March 2006 ESA was able to confirm that it had brought the Galileo-related frequency filings into use, three months ahead of the official deadline. In 2007 GIOVE-A started to broadcast real navigation messages, containing the information needed by user receivers to calculate their position allowing research centres and receiver manufacturers to extend testing of their Galileo receiving equipment.

A recent announcement by ESA stated that "in the near future GIOVE-A will begin to continuously broadcast the navigation message, with the message content being updated whenever the satellite is visible from the Guildford uplink station. The message content will also be extended to include the time offset between GPS and the experimental Galileo system. Knowing this offset will allow the user to build a position fix using GPS satellites and GIOVE-A." This will also help the research centres and equipment manufacturers to work towards their ultimate goal of user equipment able to work simultaneously with both GPS and Galileo.

Following on from the success of GIOVE-A, in March 2007 ESA placed a contract with SSTL for a second satellite named GIOVE-A2. This additional satellite will help maintain the critical ITU frequency filing secured by its predecessor for a further 27 months, will facilitate further development of ground equipment and may demonstrate additional features of the Galileo System.

Galileo is a joint initiative between ESA and the European Commission. When fully deployed in the early years of the next decade, it will be the first non-military positioning system to offer global coverage.

SSTL develops innovative technologies to change the economics of space, delivering cost effective satellite missions within rapid timescales. The Company is a world leader in the design, manufacture and operation of high performance small satellites with experience gained over more than 25 years and 27 missions launched.

SSTL employs 250 staff working on LEO, GEO and interplanetary missions, turnkey satellite platforms and space-proven satellite subsystems and optical systems. The Company also provides know-how transfer and training programmes and consultancy services, and performs studies for ESA, NASA and commercial customers related to platform design, mission analysis and planning.

Based in Guildford, UK, SSTL is owned by the University of Surrey (85%), SSTL staff (5%), and SpaceX of the USA (10%).

Stuart Miller | alfa
Further information:
http://www.surrey.ac.uk
http://portal.surrey.ac.uk/portal/page?_pageid=799,1540799&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

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