British satellite manufacturer Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) is today celebrating the sixth year of transmission of signals from its GIOVE-A satellite, which signalled the start of Europe’s ambitious Galileo satellite navigation programme when it secured vital frequency filings on the 12th January 2006.
The 660kg GIOVE-A satellite was designed, built and tested in only 30 months for just 28 million Euro – demonstrating that innovative low cost small satellites could fulfil prominent institutional space missions.
Launched on 28th December 2005, GIOVE-A was one of two in-orbit testbeds for Galileo. Built with a design life of twenty-seven months, its mission was to secure the radio frequency filing for the Galileo satellite system with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), test the critical Galileo payload equipment, and perform tests to characterise the radiation environment of Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) – the region of Earth’s orbital space used by navigation satellites.
Despite being the first European satellite launched into the demanding MEO environment, GIOVE-A remains fully operational having been declared a full mission success by ESA in 2008. Today it has surpassed its design life by almost four years, and continues to provide the European Space Agency (ESA) with data about the payload performance.
Following its success with GIOVE-A, SSTL is currently building the payloads for 14 satellites that are being supplied to ESA and which will provide the Initial Operational Capability of the Galileo constellation providing navigation services to end-users. Galileo is Europe’s own Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), providing real-time positioning services with unrivalled accuracy and integrity. It will be interoperable with the American GPS system and Russia’s GLONASS system.
This document has been produced under funding of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union and/or ESA. The Full Operational Capability phase of the Galileo programme is managed and fully funded by the European Commission. The Commission and ESA have signed a delegation agreement by which ESA acts as design and procurement agent on behalf of the Commission. “Galileo” is a trademark subject to OHIM application number 002742237 by EU and ESA.
Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) is the world's leading small satellite company, delivering operational space missions for a range of applications including Earth observation, science and communications. The Company designs, manufactures and operates high performance satellites and ground systems for a fraction of the price normally associated with space missions, with over 400 staff working on turnkey satellite platforms, space-proven satellite subsystems and optical instruments.
Since 1981 SSTL has built and launched 36 satellites – as well as providing training and development programmes, consultancy services, and mission studies for ESA, NASA , international governments and commercial customers, with its innovative approach that is changing the economics of space.
Based in Guildford, UK, SSTL is owned by EADS Astrium NV.