Benedicto accepts 2018 Satellites Leadership Award on behalf of Gatti

December 4, 2018  - By
Javier Benedicto (left), Head of the Galileo Programme and Navigation-related Activities, European Space Agency, accepted the award and delivered these remarks on behalf of Giuliano Gatti (right). (Photo: ESA)

Javier Benedicto (left) and Giuliano Gatti. (Photo: ESA)

Javier Benedicto, head of the Galileo Programme and Navigation-related Activities at the European Space Agency, accepted the 2018 Satellites Leadership Award and delivered these remarks on behalf of Giuliano Gatti at the 2018 GPS World Leadership Awards Ceremony. Gatti, the space segment procurement manager at the European Space Agency, received the award for his contribution to setting up the Galileo constellation from GIOVE-A and -B precursors through all Galileo operational satellites: Soyuz and Ariane 5 launches, a total of 26 Galileo satellites deployed in 7 years.

On behalf of Giuliano Gatti, I express his gratitude for this award.

After a 20-year career in microwave equipment for satellite application, working in Italy, Canada and the Netherlands, Mr. Gatti started working on navigation satellites at end of the 1990s as ESA Galileo Space Segment Manager.

He went through the initial difficulties of the program, namely the uncertainty on financing and the technical lack of maturity of critical units such as atomic clocks. At the time, joining the Galileo team of the European Space Agency was risky and challenging.

In spite of these issues, he was a key player in the developments of the first two Galileo experimental satellites, GIOVE-A and GIOVE-B, and he was in charge of their launches in 2005 and 2008, respectively, on Soyuz rockets from Baikonour, Kazakhstan.

He then followed the development and launch of the 4 IOV satellites, two in 2011 and two in 2012, from the European space port in French Guyana, on a Europeanized version of the Soyuz rockets. The first IOV launch was actually the first launch with this version of the launcher, and interface and schedule coordination issues were challenging tasks for him.

He then was instrumental for the procurement of the following generation of satellites, the 22 FOC satellites. He struggled to make sure that satellites would be produced and launched in line with the program deployment plan. Another challenge in this phase was ensuring that the adaptation of the Ariane-5 ES rocket to the Galileo satellites would converge in time and comply with all technical requirements.

Under his guidance and responsibility, the 22 satellites were put in orbit with 5 Soyuz launches and 3 Ariane-5 launches. Here the most difficult event was the launch that put two Galileo satellites in the wrong orbit, and the subsequent recovery of the satellite mission. In addition, a number of failures affected some of the in-orbit atomic clocks, and hedrove the investigation that led to the discovery of the root causes and their resolution.

Mr. Gatti then initiated the procurement and production of the follow-up recurring satellites, the so-called Batch-3 satellites. These 12 satellites have stringent schedule requirements and their first launch is planned for late 2020 or early 2021.

In parallel, he contributed to the definition of the next generation of satellites, the Transition Satellites: heavier spacecraft with improved performance and high level of re-configurability and flexibility. They will be the first step moving from the existing first generation of satellites to the second generation. In this phase, his experience and competence have played a fundamental role to arrive at the definition of the appropriate procurement requirements.

After 20 years on the development and deployment of Galileo, being in charge of the launches of 28 satellites, from the first GIOVE-A satellite in 2005 to the launch of the last 4 FOC satellites in July 2018, Mr Gatti will retire in mid-2019.

He is delighted and honored that all his efforts and contributions to develop and launch the Galileo constellation have been recognized in this important GNSS event.

Thank you.