Four new satellites belonging to Galileo, the European satellite positioning and navigation programme, were successfully launched on 12 December 2017 from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The launch took place at 15.:36 local time (19:36 CET) with an Ariane 5 ES launcher.

Galileo is Europe’s own global navigation satellite system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control. Currently providing Initial Services, Galileo is interoperable with GPS and Glonass, the US and Russian global satellite navigation systems. By offering dual frequencies as standard, Galileo is set to deliver real-time positioning accuracy down to the meter range.

For the first time, the European GNSS Agency (GSA) has been responsible for the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) of this mission, overseeing Spaceopal - an equal joint venture between Telespazio and DLR-GfR - in their new role as Galileo Service Operator and LEOP Mission Director.

The LEOP is one of the most important phases of a space mission as it launches the spacecraft, puts it into the correct orbit, and gradually switches on and tests the first satellite elements. For a quadruple Ariane 5 launch such as Galileo Launch 9, this phase will take about 14 days.

The December 12th Galileo launch will be the second launch performed by an Ariane 5 launcher and will bring the Galileo constellation to a total of 22 satellites launched so far: 4 in-orbit validation (IOV) satellites and 18 full operational capability (FOC) satellites.

The GSOp contract that Spaceopal won on December 2016 extended the scope of activities that the Telespazio and Gfr owned company has carried out for the Galileo program since 2010. In particular, since July 1st 2017, Spaceopal assumed responsibility for managing the Galileo satellite system and its performance: the operations and control of the system, the network, its security, logistics and maintenance of the systems and infrastructure, the user support services.

Spaceopal carries out these activities through the two Galileo Control Centres in Fucino and Oberpfaffenhofen (at the DLR site near Munich), as well as the GNSS Service Centre (Madrid) and a network of sites and stations distributed around the globe and connected by the Galileo Data Dissemination network.

Since the end of 2016, Galileo Initial Service is available and Spaceopal is actively supporting the completion of the system to expend the services up to full operational capability by 2020.

Telespazio is not only heavily involved in all the phases of the system's operational life span of Galileo through Spaceopal, but plays  an industrial leading role in the development of the program, having built, at the Fucino Space Centre, one of the Galileo Control Centre (GCC), which will manage the programme’s constellation and mission and having developed and put in service the Galileo Data Dissemination network.

Telespazio also supports CNES and Arianespace in managing the Launch Centre in Guyana, as well as in operations for launching and placing satellites into orbit, through Telespazio France, and is also engaged in providing a wide range of applications based on Galileo and EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) in sectors such as civil aviation, rail transport, dangerous goods management and unmanned aircrafts control. Furthermore Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has been the prime contractor for both the constellation simulator for the ground control segment (GCS) and the assembly, integration and validation platform for the ground mission segment.

Moreover, an important technological component in the satellites already in orbit, in those to be launched and those still under construction has been developed by Leonardo: the IRES-N2 (Infrared Earth Sensor) attitude sensors used to control the satellites’ position, the innovative PHM (Passive Hydrogen Maser) hydrogen atomic clocks to mark the time and a receiver for the PRS service, designed for government entities and critical infrastructures with special security requirements.


Further Links about Satellite Navigation

ESA:  Navigation Facility - Galileo

DLR: Galileo Control Centre Oberpfaffenhofen

Telespazio: The Group's involvement - spaceopal - Galileo Control Centre Fucino

ILRS website

GSSF Website

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