Monthly Archives: October 2013

Orolia, Atomic Clock supplier for FOC Galileo Satellites

Orolia Group, through its subsidiary SpectraTime, has been awarded by a 14.5 million euro contract to supply Rubidium atomic clocks (Rubidium Atomic Frequency Standard, RAFS) and passive hydrogen masers to equip eight FOC Galileo satellites.

Each Galileo satellite carries two Rubidium atomic clocks and a passive hydrogen maser, the most stable clock in the world. Once completed this new contract, in partnership with Astrium and Selex Galileo, will make Spectratime the leading supplier in the world for active atomic clocks in space, including 72 for the Galileo system. Read more…

Galileo contribution to Cospas-Sarsat

Galileo support to Search and Rescue Service (SAR/Galileo) represents the contribution of Europe to the international COSPAS-SARSAT co-operative effort on humanitarian Search and Rescue activities.

Operational use of Cospas-Sarsat by SAR agencies started with the crash of a light aircraft in Canada, in which three people were rescued (September 10, 1982). Since then, the System has been used for thousands of SAR events and has been instrumental in the rescue of over 33,000 lives worldwide. Read more…

Galileo FOC satellites production

The 22 satellites so far contracted to join the four already in orbit are having their payloads manufactured at Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd in the UK, which are then integrated to their satellite platforms at OHB in Germany. Finally, each complete satellite is tested at ESTEC in the Netherlands for launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

This main manufacturing process is fed by smaller but no less crucial production lines all across Europe, run by specialised companies supplying essential building blocks to Galileo’s prime contractors. Read more…

FOC Galileo satellites images

These pictures give the first detailed views of the next batch of Galileo Full Operational Capability (FOC) satellites, the first of which has already been delivered to ESA for rigorous testing in simulated space conditions.

It is being prepared for testing in the ESA’s ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk (the Netherlands), a unique test centre with all the facilities needed to validate a satellite for launch under one roof. Read more…

First FOC Galileo satellites launch delayed

Late last year, Galileo program managers laid out an ambitious schedule of launches, including two dual-satellite launches this year. They wanted 14 to 18 FOC (Full Operational Capability) spacecraft in place by the end of 2014. Target difficult to achieve assuming the missing of the planned september/october 2013 launch, postponed to december. Even this last milestone seems quite unlikely to meet.

The first FOC Galileo satellite is under test at the ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Center (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, The Netherlands, It has been acknowledged that the new-generation spacecraft’s launch will not occur until December 28, and even that date looks highly unlikely. Read more…

Galileo Search & Rescue, SAR (Meolut)

The completion of a pair of dedicated ground stations (Medium-Earth Orbit Local User Terminal, Meolut) at opposite ends of Europe has enabled Galileo satellites in orbit to participate in global testing of the Cospas–Sarsat search and rescue system.

The Maspalomas station, at the southern end of the largest island of the Canary Islands, was activated in June and this last month has seen the Svalbard site on Spitsbergen in the Norwegian Arctic come on line. Read more…

Leap second

A leap second is a one-second adjustment that is occasionally applied to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) in order to keep its time of day close to the mean solar time.

UTC definition specifies that the difference between UTC and the astronomically observed version of Universal Time, called UT1, must not exceed 0.9 seconds. It further recommends that the preferred time to insert the leap second is at 23h 59m 59s UTC on either 31 December or 30 June. Read more…