Airbus Defence and Space has played a leading role in the Galileo satellite navigation programme since its inception. Airbus Defence and Space is actively involved in the definition, development and verification of the Galileo system, and offering major system expertise to the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Union Agency for the Space Programme EUSPA (former GSA) and the European Commission.
We provide system and services support to ESA and EUSPA for the Galileo Exploitation Phase, enabling constant monitoring and development of the first generation system performance. Looking to the future of Galileo, Airbus Defence and Space is also one of the leading companies supporting ESA system work for the definition and development of the next generation. Since 2014 we have led the second generation system design contracts, looking at major evolutions at system, space and ground segment level, with the aim of achieving an ever more accurate, resilient and capable global Galileo system.
In terms of the Space Segment, Airbus Defence and Space developed the first two experimental spacecraft that demonstrated the critical technologies in orbit, together with the first four fully representative satellites for the Galileo 1st generation constellation, allowing the successful system in-orbit validation. All the Galileo 1st Generation satellite navigation payloads currently in orbit were built by Airbus Defence and Space and our fully-owned subsidiary Surrey Satellites Technology (SSTL).
But our involvement does not stop there: We are also currently designing and manufacturing six 2nd Generation spacecraft, and at the forefront of research when it comes to the evolution of the Galileo satellite and critical technologies for future generations.
The ‘Gen 2’ spacecraft is being designed and will be manufactured at the new satellite integration centre at the Airbus Defence and Space facility in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Weighing around 2.3 tons, the new satellites are designed for a lifetime of 15 years. The state-of-the-art all-electric Medium-Earth Orbit (MEO) platform from Airbus re-uses flight proven building blocks from our Telecom and Earth Observation programmes, taking advantage of our unique combination of heritage and in-orbit experience. The flexible and modular navigation payload solution with future growth capability is also based on telecom satellite elements for beam forming and signal generation.
From the beginning of Galileo until 2018, Airbus Defence and Space was the prime contractor for the Ground Control Segment which provides the day-to-day control for all the Galileo satellites in orbit. The successful provision of this complex Ground Control Segment, fully available to support every satellite launch and subsequent operations, highlights our strong background in large ground segments, demonstrating that we can deliver along the complete life-cycle from development, through deployment, operations, maintenance and successive in service evolution.