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Galileo second gen enters full development phase

June 2, 2023  - By
Image: Galileo_Second_Generation.jpg

Image: ESA

On May 31, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced the main procurement batch of Galileo Second Generation (G2), initiated in summer 2022, has been finalized. The system is now ready for its on-orbit validation development phase.

Following the opening session of the European Navigation Conference (ENC), Javier Benedicto, director of navigation for the ESA, invited Thales Alenia Space, Airbus Defence and Space, and Thales Six GTS  to sign contracts commencing system engineering support for the next generation of Europe’s navigation satellite system.

Satellite-building contracts were awarded in May 2021 to Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Defence and Space to create two independent families of satellites amounting to 12 G2 satellites in total. Separate contracts were also awarded to Safran Electronics and Defence-Navigation and Timing and Leonardo to provide the ultra-precise atomic clocks carried aboard.

Employing electric propulsion for the first time, and hosting a higher-strength navigation antenna, the G2 satellites will incorporate six (rather than four) enhanced atomic clocks as well as inter-satellite links to communicate and cross-check with one another. They will be controllable with an increased data rate to and from the ground and will operate for 15 years on orbit.

In addition, G2’s fully digital payloads are being designed to be easily reconfigured on orbit, enabling them to respond to the evolving needs of users with novel signals and services.

There are 28 Galileo satellites on orbit, making it the most precise satellite navigation system —providing meter-level accuracy to more than four billion users around the globe. There are 10 Galileo satellites due to be launched, after which the first of the G2 satellites with enhanced capabilities are expected to join the constellation in the next few years.

About the Author: Maddie Saines

Maddie has a B.A. in Journalism and Promotional Communication from Cleveland State University and has years of marketing and journalistic experience under her belt. She joins the editorial staff at GPS World and team at North Coast Media after working in professional sports for over six years.