The first two Galileo Full Operational Capability (FOC) satellites arrived safely at a clean room in Kourou, French Guiana, at 20:00 on Wednesday, May 7, in preparation for launch this summer.
Named “Doresa” and “Milena,” the two Galileo FOC satellites arrived at the Félix Éboué international airport in French Guiana at 02:00 local time. They spent the day in an airlock to acclimatize before being taken to their new home, the S1A clean room, where they could be safely unpacked to begin the launch campaign.
Europe’s two latest Galileo navigation satellites touched down at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana packed safely within protective and environmentally controlled containers. The satellites were carried across the Atlantic aboard a 747 cargo carrier, according to the European Space Agency.
Manufactured by OHB in Bremen, Germany, with navigation payloads contributed by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. in Guildford, UK, these satellites – the first of 22 full-capability models — had spent several months at ESA’s Technical Centre, ESTEC, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, where they underwent exhaustive testing in simulated space conditions.
“Adam”, the third Galileo FOC satellite is currently undergoing testing under space conditions at ESTEC. The fourth Galileo FOC satellite, “Anastacia,” will begin final testing at OHB in Bremen before being shipped to ESTEC. The Galileo satellites are named for the children who won a painting competition organized by the European Commission in 2011.
After successfully passing the Flight Readiness Review (FRR) last week, Doresa and Milena were released for shipment to the French overseas department. “Thanks to the good collaboration between the participating industrial teams and the experts at the European Space Agency ESA as our customer, OHB was able to successfully finish the FRR,” says OHB’s Director of Navigation Wolfgang Paetsch who will be personally overseeing the launch preparations in Kourou.
On May 5, the two satellites left on a pair of lorries for Frankfurt Airport in Germany, from where they flew the following evening. After landing in French Guiana, the satellites were driven to the clean room. The pair will be launched together aboard a Soyuz rocket, joining the four Galileos already in orbit. This initial quartet — the minimum number needed for achieving a position fix — has demonstrated the overall system works as planned, while also serving as the operational nucleus of the coming full constellation.
“Similar arrival scenes should become familiar over the next couple of years,” said Giuliano Gatti, Head of ESA’s Galileo Space Segment Procurement Office. “These first two Full Operational Capability satellites are effectively preparing the way for the rest of the constellation, allowing the final validation of assembly, testing and launch preparation procedures. A steady stream of satellites is foreseen, coming from OHB to ESTEC for acceptance testing and then on to French Guiana. Thanks to the preparatory work done with these pioneer satellites, future Galileos will be processed more rapidly.”
The definition, development and in-orbit validation phases of the Galileo programme were carried out by ESA and co-funded by ESA and the EU. The Full Operational Capability phase is managed and 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. OHB System is the industrial prime contractor responsible for the total of 22 Galileo FOC satellites.