The European Space Agency and the European Commission (EC) have signed a contract to launch the €20 million ($20.2 million) GalileoSat definition phase for the proposed Galileo satellite navigation system. By mid-December, the EC was also expected to sign four major contracts with industry on Galileo system definition.

The GalileoSat study, which began in November and runs to December next year, involves the definition of the system's space segment and ground systems. This phase will be led by Alenia Aerospazio and will involve more than 50 European subcontractors.

The four industry contracts will cover the mission specification, global architecture and system specifications, service definition, integration and standardisation of the Galileo system.

The main €27 million industry contract - the Galileo Overall Architecture Definition (GALA) - will define Galileo's mission specification, the global architecture and system specifications. GALA will be led by Alcatel Space and involve 60 European companies.

A second contract will go to Racal, to lead an industrial consortium investigating Galileo service definition, while an Alcatel Space-led industrial consortium will explore integration issues with Europe's first satellite navigation system - the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System. The third contract will be awarded to Sextant, which will lead a consortium investigating Galileo standardisation issues. These contracts will be fully integrated with the main GALA contract and the GalileoSat definition study.

The €2.7 billion Galileo system will comprise at least 21 satellites in 24,000km circular orbits, possibly complemented by geostationary satellites at 36,000km. The system will be designed to be interoperable with second-generation global positioning systems. Galileo is set to be operational in 2005, with full operational capability planned for 2008.

Source: Flight International