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  • richardmitnick 7:52 am on August 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA: “How each Galileo satellite is tested ahead of launch” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    31 July 2017
    No writer credit found.

    ESA/Galileo Spacecraft

    1
    Galileo in Maxwell chamber
    Released 31/07/2017 11:28 am
    Copyright ESA/OHB–S. Bury

    A Galileo Full Operational Capability satellite inside the Maxwell test chamber of ESA’s Test Centre in the Netherlands. Note its search and rescue antenna, left, and main navigation antenna, covered in silver ‘single layer insulation’ as it will be in space. Two further S-band telemetry, tracking and telecommand antennas are seen jutting out of the satellite body to its left and right sides. These 9 m-high spike-lined walls enclose the hushed interior of the chamber, isolating the satellite from all external influences to assess its electromagnetic compatibility. Once its main door is sealed, the metal walls of the chamber form a ‘Faraday Cage’, screening out external electromagnetic signals. The ‘anechoic’ foam pyramids covering its interior absorb internal signals – as well as sound – to prevent any reflection, mimicking the infinite void of space. The satellite’s systems are then switched on to detect any harmful interference as its various elements operate together.

    Each Galileo satellite must go through a rigorous test campaign to assure its readiness for the violence of launch, airlessness and temperature extremes of Earth orbit.

    Each one is despatched to a unique location in Europe to ensure its readiness prior to launch: a 3000 sq m cleanroom complex nestled in sandy dunes along the Dutch coast, filled with test equipment to simulate all aspects of spaceflight.

    The test centre in Noordwijk – Europe’s largest satellite test site – is part of ESA’s main technical centre, but it is maintained and operated on a commercial basis on behalf of the Agency by a private company created for the purpose: European Test Services (ETS) B.V.

    “Our company was founded 2000 as a joint venture between two of Europe’s leading satellite environmental test companies, Intespace in France and IABG in Germany,” explains Pierre Destaing, ETS test programme support manager for Galileo.

    2
    Aerial view of ESA’s technical centre. ESA – Jan Van Haarlem/Gallery Imaging bv, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

    “That business setup is a source of flexibility: there are 30–35 people working here throughout the year, but if extra specialists are needed for a given campaign we can call on our parent companies.”

    ETS has been responsible for supporting many historic test campaigns – including space-certifying Europe’s 20-tonne ATV space truck and Envisat, the world’s largest civilian Earth-observing mission. But in terms of scale alone, its work with Galileo is the company’s greatest challenge.

    ETS is about to complete its contracts with OHB System AG, covering the environmental test of 22 ‘Full Operational Capability’ Galileo satellites, preceded by the testing of the very first of the first–generation ‘In-Orbit Validation’ Galileo satellites on a previous, separate contract.

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    Galileo arrival. Released 31/07/2017 11:48 am. Copyright ESA/OHB–S. Bury.
    Description

    A Galileo Full Operational Capability satellite being slid out of its transport containers into the cleanroom environment of ESA’s ESTEC Test Centre in the Netherlands. Some 22 Galileo FOC satellites have gone through testing here, along with the very first Galileo ‘In-Orbit Validation’ satellites. The Test Centre contains a collection of facilities to simulate every aspect of the launch and space environments. Galileo’s search and rescue antenna is visible in the foreground, with the circular navigation antenna in the middle of the satellite.

    The pressure has been steady to ensure satellites are available in time to meet Galileo’s launch schedule.

    “Traffic management is a big part of the job – it’s like a game of Tetris.” Pierre comments. “We have a steady stream of Galileo satellites to accommodate, along with other missions such as the BepiColombo Mercury orbiter, Solar Orbiter, the Cheops exoplanet detector and currently the latest MetOp weather satellite, with a fixed set of test facilities.

    “The biggest challenge is definitely ensuring that every project can have the access to the facility they need at the right time, which demands complicated logistics and security adherence.”

    4
    Moving Galileo. Released 31/07/2017 10:53 am. Copyright ESA–G. Porter, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

    Task list for testing

    ETS has built up to a steady rhythm with the OHB System team, typically accommodating multiple satellites in storage on site, at the same time as others undergo further active testing.

    “When each new satellite arrives, it is first unpacked within the carefully filtered and air conditioned Test Centre environment,” explains Pierre.

    5
    Galileo beside Phenix chamber. Released 31/07/2017 11:53 am. Copyright ESA/OHB–S. Bury.
    Description
    A Galileo Full Operational Capability satellite being removed from the Phenix thermal vacuum chamber after a fortnight-long ‘hot and cold’ vacuum test.

    “Its next stop is the Phenix thermal vacuum chamber within which the satellite undergoes ‘bake out’ – heated up to ensure a suitably pristine vacuum ahead of the turning on of sensitive instruments.

    “This is followed by a prolonged, fortnight-long ‘hot and cold soak’ in vacuum to prove the spacecraft performance and workmanship. Next is radio-frequency testing in the Maxwell chamber – shielded against all external radio signals and coated in radio-absorbing foam, to simulate the infinite surroundings of space – to assess the performance of the satellite antennas as well as their compatibility with onboard systems.”

    Also on the task list are mechanical properties measurements – pinpointing each individual satellite’s precise centre of mass and gravity. This is a requirement for compatibility with Galileo’s two types of launch vehicle types – Soyuz and Ariane 5 – as well as helping with controlling their orientation in a fuel-efficient way, elongating their working lifetimes in orbit.

    And each satellite also needs to be plugged into the larger Galileo system for testing, to check its end-to-end compatibility as if already serving in space.

    Each Galileo has its dedicated solar wings mounted – they come from Airbus Defence and Space in nearby Leiden – for performance testing. They are then brought into launch configuration, making the satellite ready for acoustic testing in the Large European Acoustic Facility where it is blasted with the equivalent noise of the various types of rocket at take-off.

    “After further performance tests by OHB, the satellite is at its final stages of verification before shipment to Kourou: the alignment of its antennas and thrusters. Then the propulsion system is filled with neutral gas to check for any leaks – preparing for the actual fuelling of the satellite with hydrazine at the launch site.”

    6
    Galileo in acoustic test chamber. Released 31/07/2017 9:34 am. Copyright ESA/OHB–S. Bury
    A Galileo Full Operational Capability satellite being prepared for testing inside ESA’s Large European Acoustic Facility, which subjects test items to the equivalent noise of launch – note the sound horns to the left. The satellite is in its launch configuration, so its solar arrays are folded up on each side.

    Ahead of the majority of tests, ETS works closely with the OHB environmental test team to supply them with supporting information such as thermal and accelerometer data monitoring (typically adding up to dozens of different channels) as well as radio-frequency measurements: “It is ETS’ job to ensure that our customer, OHB , receives all the data they need from our infrastructure, operated in a suitably secure and clean mode.”

    The company also needs to anticipate the sometimes formidable logistical needs of each test campaign – thermal vacuum testing for instance requires two liquid nitrogen trucks daily to top up on-site supplies, requiring 50 000 litres of superchilled nitrogen per day of each 14-day test.

    Their future link with Galileo is not yet assured; ETS will put in a bid to test Europe’s next set of Galileo satellites – ‘Batch 3’ – for OHB along with other European competitors.

    OHB Galileo Environmental test campaign Manager Stephen Bury comments, “OHB and ETS have had a long and successful collaborative relationship during Galileo testing, completing 20 out of the 22 satellites at Noordwijk to date, with the final two progressing well.

    “All OHB and ETS employees are proud of their role in readying the current constellation for space, and we look forward to possibly returning to work with ETS in the future, for the next set of Galileo satellites awarded to OHB in Batch 3.”

    Pierre concludes: “There’s something very special about working directly with the satellites, ahead of their trip to orbit.”

    See the full article here .

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 8:53 am on December 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ESA Galileo   

    From ESA: “Galileo begins serving the globe” 

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    European Space Agency

    15 December 2016
    No writer credit

    ESA Galileo Spacecraft
    ESA Galileo Spacecraft

    Europe’s own Galileo satellite navigation system has begun operating, with the satellites in space delivering positioning, navigation and timing information to users around the globe.

    Today, the European Commission, owner of the system, formally announced the start of Galileo Initial Services, the first step towards full operational capability.

    Further launches will continue to build the satellite constellation, which will gradually improve the system performance and availability worldwide.

    ESA has overseen the design and deployment of Galileo on behalf of the Commission, with system operations and service provision due to be entrusted to the European Global Navigation Satellite System Agency next year.

    After five years of launches there are now 18 satellites in orbit. The most recent four, launched last month, are undergoing testing ahead of joining the constellation next spring.

    The full Galileo constellation will consist of 24 satellites plus orbital spares, intended to prevent any interruption in service.

    ESA Director general Jan Woerner noted, “For ESA, this is a very important moment in the programme. We know that the performance of the system is excellent.

    “The announcement of Initial Services is the recognition that the effort, time and money invested by ESA and the Commission has succeeded, that the work of our engineers and other staff has paid off, that European industry can be proud of having delivered this fantastic system.”

    Paul Verhoef, ESA’s Director of the Galileo Programme and Navigation-related Activities, added, “Today’s announcement marks the transition from a test system to one that is operational. We are proud to be a partner in the Galileo programme.

    “Still, much work remains to be done. The entire constellation needs to be deployed, the ground infrastructure needs to be completed and the overall system needs to be tested and verified.

    “In addition, together with the Commission we have started work on the second generation, and this is likely to be a long but rewarding adventure.”

    Initial Services

    Galileo is now providing three service types, the availability of which will continue to be improved.

    The Open Service is a free mass-market service for users with enabled chipsets in, for instance, smartphones and car navigation systems. Fully interoperable with GPS, combined coverage will deliver more accurate and reliable positioning for users.

    Galileo’s Public Regulated Service is an encrypted, robust service for government-authorised users such as civil protection, fire brigades and the police.

    The Search and Rescue Service is Europe’s contribution to the long-running Cospas–Sarsat international emergency beacon location. The time between someone locating a distress beacon when lost at sea or in the wilderness will be reduced from up to three hours to just 10 minutes, with its location determined to within 5 km, rather than the previous 10 km.

    Finding your way

    Like all satnav systems, Galileo operations rely on the extremely precise measurement of time – around 10 billionths of a second on average.

    Because all electromagnetic waves, including radio, travel at a fixed speed – just under 30 cm each billionth of a second – the time it takes for Galileo signals to reach a user receiver yields distance measurements. All the receiver has to do is multiply the travel time by the speed of light.

    A minimum of four satellites must be visible to pinpoint position: one each to fix latitude, longitude and altitude, with another to ensure synchronised timings. More satellites provide a greater level of service coverage and precision.

    The public will begin benefiting as Galileo-capable devices enter the marketplace: 17 companies, representing more than 95% of global supply, now produce Galileo-ready chips.

    ‘Galileo System Time’ is set to become an important utility in its own right, essential for synchronising worldwide banking, power and data networks.

    2
    Galileo time
    Released 20/02/2013 11:35 am
    Copyright ESA

    With its orbiting atomic clocks kept synchronised by a worldwide ground network, the Galileo constellation is like a single planet-sized clock. With satellite navigation based on ranging – how long does it take for a signal to reach the receiver? – accurate time measurements down to a billionth of a second are essential for precise position fixes.

    See the full article here .

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 10:26 am on December 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA Galileo   

    From ESA: “Galileos 11 and 12” 

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    European Space Agency

    1
    Credits: ESA/CNES/ARIANESPACE/Optique

    Galileos 11 and 12, mated with their dispenser on top of their Fregat upper stage being encapsulated within their Soyuz fairing.

    The latest Galileo satellites lifted off at 11:51 GMT on 17 December (12:51 CET; 08:51 Kourou time) from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on a Soyuz rocket. They are expected to become operational, after initial in-orbit testing, next spring.

    This is the sixth Galileo launch overall and the third this year, set to bring the number of satellites in space up to 12.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 2:36 pm on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA Galileo   

    From ESA: “Galileos in the zone for launch” 

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    European Space Agency

    15 December 2015

    Galileos 11 and 12 are on the launch pad, attached to the top of their Soyuz rocket in readiness for this week’s launch.

    ESA Galileo Spacecraft
    A Galileo spacecraft

    Europe’s next navigation satellites are due for launch at 11:51 GMT (12:51 CET, 08:51 local time) on Thursday from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

    Last Thursday the two satellites, already attached to their carrier, were fixed to the Fregat upper stage before the halves of the protective Soyuz fairing were closed around them on Friday.

    This marked the completion of the ‘upper composite’ – the combination of Galileo satellites, dispenser and the upper stage that will fly them the bulk of the way up to their medium-altitude orbit.

    2
    Galileo satellites 11 and 12 are mated with their dispenser.
    The latest Galileo satellites are scheduled to lift off at 11:51 GMT on 17 December (12:51 CET; 08:51 Kourou time) from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on a Soyuz rocket. They are expected to become operational, after initial in-orbit testing, next spring.
    This is the sixth Galileo launch overall and the third this year, set to bring the number of satellites in space up to 12.

    Meanwhile, the first three stages of the Soyuz were assembled horizontally, rolled out to the pad and raised to the vertical.

    The upper composite was moved to the pad on Sunday afternoon, hoisted to the top of the tower and then then carefully attached to Soyuz.

    Yesterday’s Launch Readiness Review opened the way to Soyuz fuelling and finally launch.

    This latest Galileo campaign began with the arrival of the satellites in French Guiana on 30 October. This is the sixth Galileo launch overall and the third launch of 2015, set to bring the number of satellites in space up to 12.

    It takes place just 11 days before the 10th anniversary of the liftoff of Europe’s very first navigation satellite.

    The experimental GIOVE-A took off on 28 December 2005 to reserve operational frequencies, test key hardware and gather data on the orbital environment for the Galileo constellation to follow. GIOVE-B followed in April 2008.

    Since then not only has the first third of the Galileo constellation reached orbit, but a network of Galileo ground stations has been erected across the globe.

    In future, the number of satellites that can be inserted into orbit with a single launch will double from two to four, when a customised Ariane 5 rocket becomes available to complement Soyuz.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 9:30 am on November 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA Galileo,   

    From ESA: “Galileo satellites set for year-long Einstein experiment” 

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    European Space Agency

    9 November 2015

    Javier Ventura-Traveset
    ESA Global Navigation Satellite Systems Senior Advisor
    Email: Javier.ventura-traveset@esa.int

    Dr Pacôme Delva
    SYRTE, Observatoire de Paris
    Email: pacome.delva@obspm.fr

    Dr Sven Hermann
    ZARM Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity
    Email: sven.herrmann@zarm.uni-bremen.de

    ESA Galileo Spacecraft
    ESA/Galileo satellites

    Europe’s fifth and sixth Galileo satellites – subject to complex salvage manoeuvres following their launch last year into incorrect orbits – will help to perform an ambitious year-long test of Einstein’s most famous theory.

    Galileos 5 and 6 were launched together by a Soyuz rocket on 22 August 2014. But the faulty upper stage stranded them in elongated orbits that blocked their use for navigation.

    ESA’s specialists moved into action and oversaw a demanding set of manoeuvres to raise the low points of their orbits and make them more circular.

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    Corrected Galileo orbits

    “The satellites can now reliably operate their navigation payloads continuously, and the European Commission, with the support of ESA, is assessing their eventual operational use,” explains ESA’s senior satnav advisor Javier Ventura-Traveset.

    “In the meantime, the satellites have accidentally become extremely useful scientifically, as tools to test Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity by measuring more accurately than ever before the way that gravity affects the passing of time.”

    Although the satellites’ orbits have been adjusted, they remain elliptical, with each satellite climbing and falling some 8500 km twice per day.

    It is those regular shifts in height, and therefore gravity levels, that are valuable to researchers.

    Albert Einstein predicted a century ago that time would pass more slowly close to a massive object. It has been verified experimentally, most significantly in 1976 when a hydrogen maser atomic clock on Gravity Probe A was launched 10 000 km into space, confirming the prediction to within 140 parts in a million.

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    Galileo maser clock

    3
    Gravity Probe A

    Atomic clocks on navigation satellites have to take into account they run faster in orbit than on the ground – a few tenths of a microsecond per day, which would give us navigation errors of around 10 km per day.

    “Now, for the first time since Gravity Probe A, we have the opportunity to improve the precision and confirm Einstein’s theory to a higher degree,” comments Javier.

    “This increased precision is of great interest because it will test several alternative theories of gravity.”

    This new effort takes advantage of the passive hydrogen maser atomic clock aboard each Galileo, the elongated orbits creating varying time dilation, and the continuous monitoring thanks to the global network of ground stations.

    “Moreover, while the Gravity Probe A experiment involved a single orbit of Earth, we will be able to monitor hundreds of orbits over the course of a year,” explains Javier.

    “This opens up the prospect of gradually refining our measurements by identifying and removing errors. Eliminating those errors is actually one of the big challenges.

    “For that we count on the support of Europe’s best experts in Europe plus precise tracking from the International Global Navigation Satellite System Service, along with tracking to centimetre accuracy by laser.”

    The results are expected in about one year, projected to quadruple the accuracy on the Gravity Probe A results.

    The two teams devising the experiments are Germany’s ZARM Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity, and France’s Systèmes de Référence Temps-Espace, both specialists in fundamental physics research.

    ESA’s forthcoming Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space experiment, planned to fly on the International Space Station in 2017, will go on to test Einstein’s theory down to 2–3 parts per million.

    See the full article here .

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 8:58 am on September 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA Galileo   

    From ESA: “Galileo satellites handed over to operator” 

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    European Space Agency

    25 September 2015

    ESA Galileo Spacecraft
    Galileo Spacecraft

    Europe’s latest pair of Galileo satellites has passed its initial check out in space, allowing control to be handed over to the main control centre and join the growing fleet.

    “This was a beautifully smooth start to the mission,” comments ESA mission director, Richard Lumb.

    “From liftoff through to handover to the constellation operator and beyond, this has been a textbook performance not only of the satellites but also for all the operations and manufacturer teams on the ground.”

    Galileos 9 and 10 were launched on the morning of 11 September. Their individual lives began within four hours, as they separated from their rocket’s final stage, overseen from ESA’s ESOC operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

    Days of round-the-clock effort followed, to bring the satellites to life, beginning with closely monitoring the unfolding of their solar wings and their pointing towards the Sun.

    The various satellite elements were methodically switched on, their health checked and readied for work.

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    Controlling Galileo

    Liviu Stefanov, an ESA flight director, described the process as “one of the smoothest yet.”

    The satellites fired their thrusters to drift towards their target orbital positions at around 23 222 km altitude – helped along in this case by a near-perfect orbital injection to begin with.

    Firings will resume around the end of October to stop the drift and achieve fine positioning in orbit, guided by ESOC’s specialist flight dynamics team.

    The accuracy of the Galileo system relies on the orbital position of its satellites being fixed to a very high level of precision.

    3
    Galileo control centre

    Once on their way, the satellites were handed over on 19 and 20 September, respectively, to the Galileo Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany managed by SpaceOpal.

    The team of engineers from ESA and France’s CNES space agency are preparing for the next launch, scheduled for December. The early phase for Galileos 11 and 12 will be overseen from CNES in Toulouse, France, which alternates with ESOC as hosts.

    The navigation payloads on Galileos 9 and 10 still need to undergo detailed testing, led from ESA’s Redu centre in Belgium with the support of both Oberpfaffenhofen and the second Galileo Control Centre in Fucino, Italy, which has oversight of Galileo’s navigation mission.

    This phase ensures the latest satellites’ navigation and search and rescue payloads are operating normally, giving them a clean bill of health before they can join the Galileo constellation.

    See the full article here .

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 7:03 am on March 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA: “Galileo satellites enclosed for Friday’s launch” 

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    European Space Agency

    25 March 2015
    No Writer Credit

    1
    Galileos enclosed

    Thousands of engineers have worked on the seventh and eighth navigation satellites of Europe’s Galileo constellation in recent years, but last Friday marked the very last time the spacecraft were glimpsed by human eyes.

    The team from ESA and builders OHB in the S3B building of Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana looked on as the focus of their work disappeared from view.

    The pair of satellites – already resting atop their Fregat upper stage and attached to their dispenser – was enclosed within the halves of the Soyuz rocket’s protective fairing.

    This unit was moved yesterday to the launch site, where it will be lifted atop the first three stages of the Soyuz ST-B to complete the vehicle for Friday’s launch.

    2
    Heading to launch pad

    Last week saw the two satellites being fuelled in the Spaceport’s S5A preparation hall and then brought together atop the dispenser that will support them during the rigours of ascent.

    The dispenser’s final task is to release them in opposite directions once their 22 522 km-altitude orbit is reached. The satellites themselves will then gradually lower themselves to their working 22 322 km orbit.

    After fuelling, the satellites plus dispenser were moved to the S3B processing building, where their Fregat was already fuelled and waiting.

    3
    Galileo’s Soyuz

    The reignitable Fregat is as much a spacecraft as a rocket stage. Once the Soyuz reaches low orbit, Fregat will take over the task of hauling the satellites higher through a pair of burns.

    The two Galileos and their dispenser altogether weigh more than one and a half tonnes, so the attachment operation took place with great care and precision.

    Then the fairing halves were slowly slid into place around them and closed. Enclosed in this way, the satellites will be protected from the harsh slipstream and vibration of the first few moments of launch, when the Soyuz is still travelling through the thickest layers of atmosphere.

    4
    Inside fairing

    The fairing is due to be ejected 3 min 29 sec after liftoff.

    Until liftoff, the satellites remain connected to the outside world via power and data links, allowing ESA’s Galileo team keep a check on their battery charging and the health of their atomic clocks.

    The satellites stay switched off during launch, and will be activated automatically on separation from the dispenser.

    Launch is due at 21:46:18 GMT (22:46:18 CET, 18:46:18 local time) on 27 March. The satellites are scheduled for release upon reaching their set orbit 3 h 47 min 57 sec after launch.

    See the full article here.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 8:31 am on December 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA Galileo   

    From ESA: Galileo Satellite Recovered and Transmitting Navigation Signals” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    3 December 2014
    No Writer Credit

    Europe’s fifth Galileo satellite, one of two delivered into a wrong orbit by VS09 Soyuz-Fregat launcher in August, has transmitted its first navigation signal in space on Saturday 29 November 2014. It has reached its new target orbit and its navigation payload has been successfully switched on.

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    Galileo

    A detailed test campaign is under way now the satellite has reached a more suitable orbit for navigation purposes.

    Recovery

    The fifth and sixth Galileo satellites, launched together on 22 August, ended up in an elongated orbit travelling up to 25 900 km above Earth and back down to 13 713 km.

    A total of 11 manoeuvres were performed across 17 days, gradually nudging the fifth satellite upwards at the lowest point of its orbit.

    As a result, it has risen more than 3500 km and its elliptical orbit has become more circular.

    “The manoeuvres were all normal, with excellent performance both in terms of thrust and direction,” explained Daniel Navarro-Reyes, ESA Galileo mission analyst.

    o
    Galileo satellite’s revised orbit

    “The final orbit is as we targeted and is a tribute to the great professionalism of all the teams involved.”

    The commands were issued from the Galileo Control Centre by Space Opal, the Galileo operator, at Oberpfaffenhofen in Germany, guided by calculations from a combined flight dynamics team of ESA’s Space Operations Centre, ESOC, in Darmstadt, Germany and France’s CNES space agency.

    The commands were uploaded to the satellite via an extended network of ground stations, made up of Galileo stations and additional sites coordinated by France’s CNES space agency.

    Satellite manufacturer OHB also provided expertise throughout the recovery, helping to adapt the flight procedures.

    Until the manoeuvres started, the combined ESA–CNES team maintained the satellites pointing at the Sun using their gyroscopes and solar sensors. This kept the satellites steady in space but their navigation payloads could not be used reliably.

    In the new orbit, the satellite’s radiation exposure has also been greatly reduced, ensuring reliable performance for the long term.

    A suitable orbit

    The revised, more circular orbit means the fifth satellite’s Earth sensor can be used continuously, keeping its main antenna oriented towards Earth and allowing its navigation payload to be switched on.

    Significantly, the orbit means that it will now overfly the same location on the ground every 20 days. This compares to a normal Galileo repeat pattern of every 10 days, effectively synchronising its ground track with the rest of the Galileo constellation.

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    Controlling Galileo

    The navigation test campaign

    The satellite’s navigation payload was activated on 29 November, to begin the full ‘In-Orbit Test’ campaign. This is being performed from ESA’s Redu centre in Belgium, where a 20 m-diameter antenna can study the strength and shape of the navigation signals at high resolution.

    “First, the various payload elements, especially the Passive Hydrogen Maser atomic clock, were warmed up, then the payload’s first ‘signal in space’ was transmitted,” said David Sanchez-Cabezudo, managing the test campaign.

    “The satellite-broadcast L-band navigation signal is monitored using the large antenna at Redu, with experts from OHB and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd – the payload manufacturer, based in Guildford, UK – also on hand to analyse how it performs over time.”

    The first Galileo FOC navigation signal-in-space transmitting in the three Galileo frequency bands (E5/E6/L1) was tracked by Galileo Test User Receivers deployed at various locations in Europe, namely at Redu (B), ESTEC (NL), Weilheim (D) and Rome (I). The quality of the signal is good and in line with expectations.

    The Search And Rescue (SAR) payload will be switched on in few days in order to complement the in-orbit test campaign.

    v
    Galileo L-band antenna at Redu

    The way forward

    The same recovery manoeuvres are planned for the sixth satellite, taking it into the same orbital plane but on the opposite side of Earth.

    The decision whether to use the two satellites for Navigation and SAR purposes as part of the Galileo constellation will be taken by the European Commission based on the test results.

    About Galileo

    Galileo is Europe’s own global satellite navigation system. It will consist of 30 satellites and their ground infrastructure.

    The definition phase and the development and In-Orbit Validation phase of the Galileo programme were carried out by the European Space Agency (ESA) and co-funded by ESA and the European Union. This phase has created a mini-constellation of four satellites and a reduced ground segment dedicated to validating the overall concept.

    The four satellites launched during the IOV phase form the core of the constellation that is being extended to reach Full Operational Capability (FOC).

    The FOC phase is fully funded by the European Commission. The Commission and ESA have signed a delegation agreement by which ESA acts as design and procurement agent on behalf of the Commission.

    Learn more about Galileo at: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Navigation

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 1:35 pm on November 6, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA Galileo   

    From ESA: “Galileo put to the test” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    Europe’s next pair of Galileo satellites have been the focus of a busy autumn at ESA’s technical centre in the Netherlands, continuing a full-scale campaign to ensure their readiness for space.

    With the first four Galileos already in orbit, these new versions are the first two of a total 22 ‘Full Operational Capability’ satellites being built by OHB in Germany with a payload from Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd in the UK.

    The second satellite joined its predecessor in mid-August at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk. This is the largest spacecraft testing site in Europe, with a full range of space simulation facilities under a single roof in cleanroom conditions. A wide range of tests have been performed on the two satellites.

    gal1
    Galileo Full Operational Capability Flight Model 2, FM2, satellite’s main L-band antenna used for broadcasting navigation messages, seen during preparation for a mass property test at the ESTEC Test Centre at the end of August 2013. Credits: ESA-Anneke Le Floc’h

    gal2
    The first two Galileo Full Operational Capability (FOC) satellites seen together at the ESTEC Test Centre on 30 August 2013. The second flight model, FM2, is in the foreground to the left with the first, FM1, in the background to the right.
    Credits: ESA-Anneke Le Floc’h

    gal3
    The main antenna of the second Galileo Full Operational Capability (FOC) satellite being inspected with a flashlight in advance of mass property testing during August 2013. Credits: ESA-Anneke Le Floc’h

    See the full article with more images here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.


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    gal4
    Checking the underside of the second Galileo Full Operational Capability satellite with a flashlight in advance of mass property testing in August 2013. Credits: ESA-Anneke Le Floc’h

     
  • richardmitnick 11:59 am on July 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA Galileo   

    From ESA: “Galileo spreads its wings” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    11 July 2013
    No Writer Credit

    “Deployment of the solar wings on the latest Galileo satellite is shown being checked at ESA’s technical hub in the Netherlands. The navigation satellite’s pair of 1 x 5 m solar wings, carrying more than 2500 state-of-the-art gallium arsenide solar cells, will power the satellite during its 12-year working life.

    wings
    Galileo FOC solar wing deployment. No image credit

    A counterweighted rig supports the deployment, otherwise the delicate fold-out wings – designed for the weightlessness of space – would crumple under the pull of Earth gravity.

    With the first four Galileo ‘In-Orbit Validation’ satellites already in orbit, this is the first of the rest of Europe’s satnav constellation.

    These Full Operational Capability satellites provide the same operational services as their predecessors, but they are built by a new industrial team: OHB in Bremen, Germany build the satellites with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd in Guildford, UK contributing the navigation payloads.

    There are also a lot more of them: this satellite is only the first of 22 ordered from OHB. It arrived at ESA’s ESTEC research and technical centre in Noordwijk in mid-May to begin a rigorous campaign of testing in simulated launch and space conditions, guaranteeing its readiness for launch.”

    See the full article here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA Technology


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