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Four Galileo Satellites Now at ESTEC, Production Continues

January 2, 2015  - By

News courtesy of the European Space Agency.

The latest Galileo satellite, formally known as FOC FM06, arrived at the ESTEC Test Centre in its protective container on Dec. 18, after traveling from OHB in Bremen, Germany. Photo: European Space Agency

The latest Galileo satellite, formally known as FOC FM06, arrived at the ESTEC Test Centre in its protective container on Dec. 18, after traveling from OHB in Bremen, Germany. Photo: European Space Agency

The latest Galileo satellite has arrived at ESTEC, in the Netherlands, and is undergoing a full checkout to prove its readiness for space.

The satellite was carried by lorry from its manufacturer in Germany, cocooned within an environmentally controlled container. It arrived inside ESTEC’s cleanroom environment on Dec. 18. The container was then opened up to begin preparations for testing.

The first six Galileo satellites are already in orbit, launched in pairs in 2011, 2012 and August this year.

The last pair was delivered into the wrong orbit by a faulty upper stage, but the fifth satellite’s orbit has since been changed to allow checking of its navigation payload, which began at the end of November.

The sides and top of the Galileo satellite container were sprayed clean before it was taken inside the bay of the ESTEC Test Centre to keep any contamination from entering the pristine cleanroom. Photo: European Space Agency

The sides and top of the Galileo satellite container were sprayed clean before it was taken inside the bay of the ESTEC Test Centre to keep any contamination from entering the pristine cleanroom. Photo: European Space Agency

Meanwhile, down on the ground, production of further satellites continues steadily, taking the Galileo series into double figures overall.

Following on from the first four In-Orbit Validation satellites, 22 of these Full Operational Capability satellites are being built by OHB in Bremen, Germany, with navigation payloads from SSTL in Guildford, UK.

Numbered Flight Model 6, or FM06 for short, this latest of the newer satellites is now reunited under the test centre’s roof with three others. FM03 and FM04 have completed their acceptance testing, culminating in the weeks-long thermal­-vacuum test. Each satellite was subjected to the same vacuum and extreme temperature conditions experienced in orbit, as well as radio-frequency testing of their navigation payloads and antennas inside an anechoic chamber isolated from the external universe. This pair is now in storage in the centre pending the results of their concluding acceptance review.

The other satellite, FM05, recently ended its own thermal-vacuum trial. It is now being reconfigured for radio-frequency testing, planned to take place after the Christmas break. The latest unboxed Galileo satellite will undergo its own thermal–vacuum test in January.

ESTEC is an essential stop on the way to space for Galileo. It is equipped with all the facilities needed to simulate space conditions under a single roof, including an acoustic chamber, earthquake-strength shaker tables, and anechoic and vacuum chambers, along with a range of specialised measuring equipment.

Once ESTEC gives the satellites its stamp of quality then they are in principle ready to be flown to Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. ESA and the European Commission are currently deciding on the launch schedule for these next Galileos.

The container containing the latest Galileo satellite, FOC FM06, was carefully hoisted off the lorry that carried it from OHB in Bremen, Germany. Its underside was then carefully cleaned before it was taken out of the bay into the cleanroom environment. Photo: European Space Agency

The container containing the latest Galileo satellite, FOC FM06, was carefully hoisted off the lorry that carried it from OHB in Bremen, Germany. Its underside was then carefully cleaned before it was taken out of the bay into the cleanroom environment. Photo: European Space Agency

 

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