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Competition to drive down Galileo costs and speed up delivery

Increased competition, resulting from the June proposal by the European Commission to fund the system through the public sector, is driving changes that will reduce the cost and risk of the Galileo satellite navigation system.

”The increased competition will have significant benefits,” stated SSTL’s Group Executive Chairman, Sir Martin Sweeting. “The public sector will soon be in a position to place contracts that give the European taxpayer better value for money and step up the pace of delivering the system”.

SSTL aims to support the European Commission and European Space Agency (ESA) by building on its experience gained through the successful GIOVE-A mission, to provide best value in the operational phase of Galileo. GIOVE-A was developed under a €28M contract signed with ESA in the second half of 2003. The mission’s primary aim was to broadcast Galileo signals from space so that Europe could claim the frequencies filed for Galileo with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The satellite was designed, built, tested and launched before the end of 2005 – on-time and on-budget. GIOVE-A has transmitted Galileo signals for over 18 months and remains the only Galileo spacecraft in operation. Following the success of GIOVE-A, ESA placed a further contract with SSTL in March 2007 for a second satellite named GIOVE-A2.

Sir Martin added: “It’s clear that a second source of operational satellites is needed, both to provide healthy competition and to reduce risk to the schedule of the Galileo system. SSTL has begun discussions with other key European suppliers, with the aim of forming a team capable of supplying a significant portion of Galileo whilst maintaining the winning formula employed on GIOVE-A. We expect these discussions to be finalised in October, in time to provide the public sector with a much needed competitive option”.

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.

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (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
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