Three of the six contracts for the procurement of the initial operational capability of the European satellite navigation system, Galileo,have now been awarded by the European Commission. The remaining three procurement contracts, for the ground mission infrastructure, the ground control infrastructure and the operations should be awarded by mid-2010.
Galileo will provide an alternative to the US-owned Global Positioning System, GPS. Many satellites in the GPS constellation are beyond their designed lifespan and others are approaching it, while budget cuts have delayed replacement leading to concerns regarding degradation of the GPS system and the possibility that there may eventually be too few satellites to provide adequately accurate fixes.
ThalesAleniaSpace of Italy has won the contract for system support services. A first order of 14 satellites has been made to OHB System AG of Germany and a contract for the launch services to Arianespace of France. This will allow the initial deployment and service provision of Europe’s satellite navigation system as of early 2014.
Antonio Tajani, European Commission Vice-President in charge of Transport, said: “With this and the upcoming awards for the remaining procurement packages, we are concluding a critical phase of the Galileo programme. We can now focus on the actual roll-out and demonstrate to European citizens that Europe’s own satellite navigation system is firmly underway”.
The contract awarded to ThalesAleniaSpace for the system support services covers the industrial services needed to support the European Space Agency for the integration and the validation of the Galileo system. It has a value of €85 million.
The signing of a framework contract in December with both OHB System AG and EADS-Astrium GmBH, both of Germany, paved the way for the eventual provision of a maximum of 32 satellites. OHB’s first order of 14 satellites is worth €566 million. The remaining satellites will be procured in subsequent work orders, each time from either OHB or EADS-Astrium GmBH depending on which company provides the most advantageous offer.
The contract with Arianespace covers the launch of five Soyuz launchers, each carrying two satellites. The first launch is scheduled for October 2012. The value of the contract amounts to €397 million.
The contracts are expected to be signed in the next few weeks between the chosen companies and the European Space Agency, on behalf of the European Commission.
The Commission is now able to better schedule the timings for the provision of the different Galileo services: the Open Service, the Public Regulated Service and the Search And Rescue Service will be provided as of early 2014. The Safety-of-Life Service and the Commercial Service will be tested as of 2014 and will be provided as Galileo reaches full operational capability with a constellation of 30 satellites.
The Galileo programme has been structured in two phases:
- The in-orbit validation (IOV) phase consists of tests and the operation of four satellites and their related ground infrastructure. This phase is ongoing. The launch of the first two IOV satellites is scheduled for end November 2010, followed by the other two in April 2011.
- The full operational capability (FOC) phase consists of the deployment of the remaining ground and space infrastructure. It includes an initial operational capability phase of 18 operational satellites. The full system will consist of 30 satellites, control centres located in Europe and a network of sensor stations and uplink stations installed around the globe.