EC selects satellite consortium

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The European Commission (EC) has selected a consortium led by OHB-System and Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL) to build and test 14 satellites for the Galileo satellite-navigation system.

Galileo is a programme funded by the EU to provide civilian global satellite-navigation capabilities from a network of 30 satellites. The programme has been subject to several delays, but is now entering its implementation phase and is due to be deployed in early 2014.

The joint UK-German contract to provide the first 14 satellites is valued at around €566m (£508m). Under the agreement, OHB-System will become the prime contractor for the construction of the 14 satellites and will have full responsibility for developing the satellite platform as well as overall integration of the satellites.  

SSTL will build and integrate the navigation payloads and support OHB with the final integration. All 14 satellites will be assembled at OHB facilities in Bremen, Germany.

The contract builds on previous experience gained by OHB in building and launching the German SAR-Lupe radar-reconnaissance system and SSTL’s work on the first Galileo satellite, GIOVE-A.

Matt Perkins, SSTL’s chief executive, said: ‘Having been responsible for GIOVE-A, the first Galileo satellite, which is still in orbit and operational two years beyond its nominal life, we are delighted that the EC and ESA have decided to make the best use of SSTL’s and OHB’s experience in integrating constellations of spacecraft.’

The EC has also awarded a contract for system-support services to Thales Alenia Space of Italy and a contract to Arianespace of France for launch of the system in early 2014.

Three further contracts for the ground-mission infrastructure, ground-control infrastructure and operations are due be awarded by mid-2010.

Antonio Tajani, EU transport commissioner, said: ‘With this and the upcoming awards for the remaining procurement packages, we are concluding a critical phase of the Galileo programme.

‘We can now focus on the actual roll out and demonstrate to European citizens that Europe’s own satellite-navigation system is firmly underway.’