Rome 16 December 2015
Galileo satellites 11 and 12 were successfully launched at 12:51PM (Italian time) on 17 December, from the spaceport of Kourou, in French Guyana.
Finmeccanica's role in this significant programme is important and involves Telespazio, Thales Alenia Space and Finmeccanica-Selex ES, with their systems, services and technology solutions for the space sector.
The Galileo programme is a collaboration of the European Union with the European Space Agency (ESA) for the improvement of Europe's technological self-reliance and the establishment of international standards for global satellite navigation systems.
The purpose of the programme is the realization of a satellite navigation system that will provide a reliable and high precision global positioning service for all types of civilian applications, including aircraft systems and drones. Once completed, the Galileo constellation will consist of 30 satellites (27 operational and 3 spares), but 24 will be enough for a fully operational European satellite navigation network.
Telespazio, which at the Fucino Space Centre built one of the two constellation and programme mission control centres, plays a leading role in the Galileo programme. In addition, through Spaceopal - a company formed through a shared joint venture with DLR/GfR - Telespazio is responsible for mission operations and related safety activities ensuring navigation message management and delivery. After the launch, the Galileo Control Centre in Fucino will be involved in the programme's IOT (In Orbit Test) activities, designed to verify the functionality and performance of satellite payloads, and in the subsequent integration of new satellites in mission operations. Telespazio France played an important role in the launch operations, supporting the CNES and Arianespace from Toulouse and Kourou in the management of the launch centre and the operations for launching the satellites into orbit. Finally, Telespazio is involved in the validation phase of the early services of the programme and the implementation of applications based on Galileo, which will encourage the development and deployment of innovative services in many areas: transport, telecommunications, geodesy, oil exploration and mining exploration.
Thales Alenia Space has been a key partner in the Galileo programme since its inception; as the head of the Galileo System Support Contract, the Company provides industry support to the European Space Agency (ESA) with system design, performance, integration and validation activities. In addition, Thales Alenia Space is the prime contractor for the development of the Galileo Mission Segment and the Galileo Security Facility, which will guarantee control of the entire satellite navigation system. The Company also provides some key elements such as signal generation units and the antennas of the first 22 satellites of the Constellation's FOC (full operation capability) phase. Thales Alenia Space also assembled, integrated and tested the 4 IOV (In Orbit Validation) satellites at the site in Rome.
Finmeccanica-Selex ES has been contributing to the European Galileo satellite navigation system since the early stages of the programme, with the development and production of IRES-N2 Infrared Earth Sensor and the PHM (Passive Hydrogen Maser) hydrogen atomic clock. IRES-N2 is a particularly advanced and reliable trim sensor, used to control spacecraft position, which takes the earth's horizon as a reference. The PHM is the most stable onboard clock ever developed for space applications; it features extraordinary time measuring precision to within a second every three million years. Thanks to this atomic clock, which was integrated in both the IOV (In Orbit Validation) and FOC (Full Operational Capability) phases of the satellite system, the Galileo navigation system will have the most accurate position detection capability ever. All together, Finmeccanica-Selex ES provides over fifty IRES-N2 sensors and as many PHM units to the satellite navigation system; these are crucial to the quality of operations and services to be provided by Galileo.