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British built navigation satellite is first for Europe


Entrepreneurial British satellite manufacturer to launch GIOVE-A micro-satellite from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan

It will be business as usual for the dedicated engineering team at Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) in Guildford, UK over the Christmas break as they celebrate the launch of their 26th satellite on 28th December.

GIOVE-A is the first satellite of the Galileo project, a £ multi-billion satellite navigation system initiative co-ordinated by the European Union (EU) and the European Space Agency (ESA). Galileo will operate globally in conjunction with the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS).

The Galileo constellation will comprise 30 satellites in 3 orbits to provide position accuracy of 1 metre or less. For the first time civil users will be able to pinpoint their location with unprecedented reliability.

The phenomenal uptake of consumer GPS products such as car navigation systems suggests that the Galileo project will ensure Europe’s competitiveness in the global market for satellite navigation products and services.

The Satellite named GIOVE-A (Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element) is the first of two satellites designed to trial systems critical to the successful operation of the constellation.

GIOVE-A was designed and built by SSTL, a commercial spin-off of the University of Surrey, UK and long time pioneer in space technology, contributing more than £150m in exports to the economy since it was founded in 1985. The company is renowned for its unique capability to develop highly cost effective, rapid response solutions – in this case the timeframe of 27 months from contract signing to launch represents a highly competitive industry benchmark.

According to CEO, Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, “The launch of GIOVE-A testifies to the continuing success of SSTL as a UK-based innovator in satellite technology. We are delighted to have been chosen to provide the first satellite in Europe’s largest space project and are excited by the benefits it will deliver for such a wide range of applications.”

SSTL is an outstanding example of a successful SME (small to medium size enterprise), with 200 employees engaged in the development of latest low-Earth, geostationary and interplanetary platforms. The company has been recognised for its achievements by the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation 2005 and World Technology Network Award for Space in 2004.

Robin Wolstenholme | alfa
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