GIOVE-A was developed by SSTL for the European Space Agency to secure the Galileo frequency filings at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
The satellite also played a crucial role as the test-bed for the Galileo payload units, providing a representative signal-in-space for ground-based experimentation with Galileo signals as well as characterising the radiation environment for the Medium Earth Orbit used by all future Galileo satellites.
The satellite was designed, built and tested in a rapid 30 month programme and launched on schedule on 28th December 2005, allowing ESA to claim the frequency filings for the Galileo programme three months before the licence expired.
On the 2nd May 2007 GIOVE-A successfully transmitted the first European navigation message from space, containing the information needed by users' receivers to calculate their position.
In 2012 SSTL's experimental GPS receiver on-board GIOVE-A successfully achieved a GPS position fix at 23,300km altitude - the first position fix above the GPS constellation on a civilian satellite.
In 2021 GIOVE-A was de-commissioned in orbit by SSTL after 16 years of operational service.