HUGHES Telecommunications and Space (HTS) is to continue to pursue development of civil satellite-based augmentation to the global-positioning system (GPS), despite a rebuff from Inmarsat with its decision not to invest in navigation payloads for its new-generation ICO global communications satellites.

Although Inmarsat, has declared its lack of interest in the GPS, claiming that it is not part of its core business, the international satellite operator says, that it will now consider allowing HTS to put navigation payloads on its ICO system, if the US manufacturer can assemble a viable international package.

Inmarsat, had earlier decided not to proceed with an HTS contract, to build navigation payloads for 12 HS-601 ICO satellites, designed to operate from intermediate circular Earth orbit, partly to ensure that the launch schedule is kept for the spacecraft, the primary purpose of which, is to provide worldwide hand-held mobile-telephone services.

"We expect Inmarsat to be open to inclusion of the navigation payload in the current generation of ICO satellites, if we can form a strong strategic alliance for the development and utilisation of the navigation payload in time," says HTS president Steve Dorfman.

"Such a system would be in accord with the recently announced US Government GPS policy. Hughes will continue to work with ICO and other potential investors to realise the opportunity," Dorfman adds.

Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL) has been awarded a contract by the European Space Agency to develop a low-cost GPS receiver for use on small satellites.

The receiver will be used to determine the position of a satellite in orbit, particularly its attitude, making it potentially less expensive than traditional equipment and more appropriate for smaller, low-cost, satellite missions. The first flight of the GPS receiver will be on the SSTL-built UoSAT 12 minisatellite, to be launched on a Russian Rokot in April 1997.

Source: Flight International