Brussels, 03 Aug 2005
The first Galileo system test bed satellite, GSTB-V2/A, has arrived at the European Space Agency (ESA) space research and technology centre in the Netherlands to undergo testing ahead of its planned launch in December.
Two satellites are being developed for the Galileo system test bed, which constitutes the first phase in the in-orbit validation of Europe's civilian satellite navigation system.
The priorities are now to secure the Galileo frequency registered with the International Telecommunications Union before the June 2006 deadline, validate new technologies, characterise the radiation environment in Galileo's medium Earth orbit, and allow for experimentation using live Galileo signals.
At ESA's European space research and technology centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, scientists will simulate the conditions that the spacecraft will experience during lift off and in orbit. Tests will include a space environment simulation in ESTEC's large space simulator, solar array deployments to confirm their correct functioning, shock, vibration and acoustic tests to simulate launch conditions, and electromagnetic compatibility experiments to ensure that the craft's various systems do not disrupt one another.
The first satellite, developed by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd in the UK, measures 1.3 metres x 1.8m x 1.65m, and has a lift-off mass of around 600 kilograms. The main elements of its payload are: two signal generation units, one emitting a simple Galileo signal and the other generating more representative Galileo signals, a phased array antenna, and two Rubidium atomic clocks. The expected lifetime of the satellite is two years.
The second of the two test bed satellites is being assembled and tested by Galileo Industries, at the premises of Alenia Spazio in Rome, Italy, prior to final testing at ESTEC in the autumn. The first satellite is due to be launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan this December, onboard a Russian Soyuz launcher.
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