A study into use of the Galileo and GPS satellite navigation systems for launcher mission management and control could see the European Space Agency's new Vega small launch vehicle use the technology.

Satellite-based systems could aid the rocket's on-board systems by providing a secondary, back-up source of guidance and navigation data. The ESA-funded study will look at the impact of using satellite navigation with Ariane and Vega launchers. EADS will perform the study, with an initial result expected by the end of 2007.

If the conclusion is that Galileo and GPS have beneficial uses for launchers, further work could be funded in 2008. One outcome could be a future Ariane 5 launch carrying a GPS unit to test the technology. "If we get further funding we will be looking at activities to improve Vega," says ESA launcher directorate Vega prime integrator manager Miguel Lopez.

The four-stage Vega will launch single and multiple payloads of up to 1.5t to circular orbits of 300-1,500km (190-930 miles) at inclinations of 5° to 100° for a cost of €20 million ($25.8 million) from 2008.

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Vega could launch with a GPS

Source: Flight International