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First UK Built Generative Navigation Payload Successfully Tested

Stevenage, 25 January 2005

The first UK built “generative” navigation payload (which generates and transmits a primary navigation signal that is not reliant on GPS) has been successfully tested by EADS Astrium at its Portsmouth facility as part of Europe’s Galileo global satellite navigation programme.

The Galileo System Test Bed (GSTB) V2/B Engineering Model (EM) comprises engineering and qualification model payload equipments, including state-of-the-art atomic clock and digital signal generation technology. The successful integration and test of this engineering model marks the first time that a “fully generative” navigation payload has been built and tested in Europe.

“This successful test is a major technological step forward proving our capability to build primary navigation signal payloads which generate independent signals and do not require GPS for reference,” said Dr Mike Healy, Director of Earth Observation, Navigation and Science for EADS Astrium in the UK.

EADS Astrium, as payload prime contractor, has procured many of the engineering and qualification model payload equipments as customer furnished items from the European Space Agency (ESA). Most are the result of many years of advanced development by space equipment manufacturers across Europe.

Incorporating these items into the engineering model required a radical manufacturing solution where the payload walls were designed to fold flat to enable easy access during the assembly, integration and test phases.

Novel ground support equipment was required to provide environmental control measures during manufacture. These included a cold plate assembly to maintain stringent temperature stability of the atomic clocks.

The completion of the EM payload assembly, integration and test campaign was a fundamental requirement to demonstrate the equipment’s mechanical and electrical interfaces and compliance to ESA’s functional and end-to-end performance requirements.

The engineering model is crucial to the success of the GSTB V2/B programme as experience and expertise gained will assure the successful construction of the Proto-Flight Model (PFM) payload. The PFM payload assembly, integration and test campaign is due to commence in January 2005, culminating in the launch of the GSTB V2/B spacecraft late in 2005 or early 2006.

Galileo is a European Union project to develop an advanced satellite navigation system. It will stimulate a step change in the role of satellite technology in the daily lives of both the public and business, from satellite positioning chips in mobile phones, to a vast array of public services including transport management and personal mobility applications. In complementing GPS, it will give increased accuracy and integrity, particularly in built-up areas and it will guarantee a role for European industry in the rapidly expanding satellite navigation market.

EADS Astrium is Europe’s leading satellite system specialist. Its activities cover complete civil and military telecommunications and Earth observation systems, science and navigation programmes, and all spacecraft avionics and equipment. EADS Astrium is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS SPACE, which is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems. In 2003 EADS SPACE had a turnover of €2.4 billion and 12,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain.

EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2003, EADS generated revenues of €30.1 billion and employed a workforce of more than 100,000.


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