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Tue, 17 Jan 2006

British satellite secures Galileo navigation system’s future

The primary objective of the GIOVE-A satellite, launched on the 28th December 2005 was to secure frequencies with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) without which the operation of Europe’s new satellite navigation system, Galileo could not proceed.

Following a series of configuration and deployment phases, the GIOVE-A’s transmission payload was switched on by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) Mission Control and signals were successfully received by a 25-metre dish antenna at the CCLRC Chilbolton Observatory (UK) and the European Space Agency (ESA) Station in Redu (Belgium) at 17:25 GMT on 12th January.

Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, Chief Executive at SSTL commented, “This is a major achievement both for SSTL and the UK - taking a leading role in the preparations for Galileo - the largest European space project. We hope that ESA and the EC will take advantage of the excellent value for money demonstrated by SSTL with GIOVE-A and apply it to the future elements of the Galileo programme to the benefit of the European tax payer"

This successful transmission used the E5 and L1 channel Galileo signals, testing the communication channels which will ultimately be used by all 30 operational satellites in the Galileo constellation in 2010. The signals were successfully decoded at the SSTL ground station using a Galileo navigation receiver.

The different Galileo signalling modes are generated sequentially, and each signal is carefully analysed by ground stations to make sure they satisfy the ITU criteria. Once these frequency filing activities are completed (expected by the end of January 2006), the GIOVE-A will be employed on the two remaining mission objectives.

The GIOVE-A satellite was built by SSTL in just 27 months for ESA at a cost of 28M Euros to fulfil three specific mission objectives. Following the frequency filing, it will test navigation systems critical for future operational Galileo satellites. Finally, GIOVE-A will characterise the radiation environment of the planned medium earth orbits of the eventual Galileo constellation, providing essential feedback for the design of the 30 operational Galileo satellites.

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About Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd

Surrey Satellite Technology Limited is an enterprise company formed in 1985 by the University of Surrey to commercialise the results of its innovative small satellite engineering research. SSTL was the first professional organisation to offer low-cost small satellites with rapid response employing advanced terrestrial technologies. Over two decades, we have built a profitable business around our unique approach to space.

Today, SSTL employs over 200 staff and has been involved in 23 small satellite missions, making it the most successful and experienced small satellite supplier in the world.

Press Contact:

Stephen Ballard

Ballard Communications Management (BCM)

Tel: 01306 882288