The full range of European Union/European Space Agency Galileo satellite navigation system signals was by this week expected to have been transmitted by the Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL)-built 400kg (880lb) Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element (GIOVE)-A spacecraft.

Launched on 28 December from Baikonur in Kazakhstan, GIOVE-A started transmitting navigation signals from its L-band phased-array antenna on the L-1 and L-5 frequency bands on 12 January. Evidence of the transmissions will be given to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a Geneva, Switzerland- based organisation that is part of the United Nations and which co-ordinates the world’s telecommunication networks and services. The ITU in return will provide a letter confirming that the frequencies have been secured for Galileo. That letter is expected in the next four weeks. “We are making swift progress. In the next 10 days we would have recorded all the frequencies,” said ESA director general Jean-Jacques Dordain on 16 January at the agency’s 2006 budget and activities press conference.

The two navigation signal generation units on board GIOVE-A were designed and manufactured by Alcatel Alenia Space and SSTL. Alcatel Alenia Space also built GIOVE-B, which is the second test satellite. On 19 January ESA and European consortium Galileo Industries signed a €950 million ($1.15 billion) contract at the German transport ministry for the first four satellites in the 30-spacecraft navigation constellation. Last week South Korea signed a co-operation agreement with the EU that could lead to it participating in Galileo.

Source: Flight International