Success of GIOVE-A means second spacecraft will now lift off in September with a different mission

Launch of the second test satellite for the European Union and European Space Agency Galileo navigation system has been delayed to September.

The Alcatel Alenia Space-built GIOVE-B Galileo in-orbit validation spacecraft was to have been launched in April.

However, the successful December launch of the Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL)-built GIOVE-A, and its January transmission on the frequencies the European satellite navigation system will use, means GIOVE-B is not needed for the time being.

Europe has a deadline of June to provide evidence to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the body that oversees frequency ownership, that the Galileo frequencies are in use. In January, ESA said it would provide the evidence within four weeks so the ITU could confirm that Galileo had exclusive legal use of its intended frequencies. As of the end of February, the ITU had not received any information.

“SSTL is currently documenting properly all the test results,” ESA says. “GIOVE-A frequency filing activities will be declared completed only at the end of March, subject to approval by radio frequency agencies in Europe.” The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory’s Chilbolton Observatory high-gain antenna in the UK is being used to check the Galileo signals.

GIOVE-B, which is closer in specification to the operational spacecraft, will instead be used to test Galileo technology, such as the atomic clocks, and to understand the satellite’s orbital characteristics. Galileo was to have become operational in 2008, but is now expected to go live in 2010.

The EU/ESA Galileo Joint Undertaking (GJU) organisation managing Galileo, meanwhile, has confirmed a delay to its operating concession negotiations. The GJU had expected to finalise an agreement with the consortium that will operate Galileo by June. With political disagreement over the location of Galileo centres now resolved, the GJU expects to sign a contract by year-end.

n ESA is to replace the Cryosat ice monitoring satellite lost in October when its Russian Rockot launch vehicle failed. Cryosat-2 will be launched in 2009 to monitor the thickness of land and sea ice.


Source: Flight International