Airbus, Thales earn 2nd-technology Galileo satellite contracts

WASHINGTON — The European Commission announced Jan. 20 it will award contracts to Airbus Defence and Room and Thales Alenia Area to construct an preliminary set of future-generation Galileo navigation satellites, shutting out incumbent manufacturer OHB.

Airbus and Thales will just about every make 6 of the next-generation Galileo satellites underneath contracts that will be formally signed at the conclude of January. The mixed worth of the contracts is 1.47 billion euros ($1.78 billion), but the Commission did not disclose the worth of just about every company’s contracts.

The 12 satellites will be the get started of the 2nd era of the Galileo method that will aspect improved accuracy and resilience. The initially satellites will be prepared for start in 2024.

Galileo is one particular of the cornerstones of the European Union’s house routines and, combined with the Copernicus system of Earth observation satellites, account for just about all the EU’s place price range. Nevertheless, EU officials explained each courses need to make improvements to to keep speed with altering needs and developing abilities outside Europe.

“Galileo and Copernicus must evolve. Or else, they will quickly turn out to be out of date,” warned Thierry Breton, commissioner for the inner current market at the European Commission, in a speech Jan. 12 at the 13th European House Meeting. New technologies that will be incorporated into the next technology of Galileo satellites, he stated, include things like digitally reconfigurable antennas, intersatellite one-way links, more innovative atomic clocks and all-electric propulsion.

“The second generation of Galileo will have appreciably improved service capabilities, notably in the subject of protected navigation and resilience towards rising threats,” Breton stated. At a push briefing later on in the meeting he declined to go into extra facts about the program, citing the pending deal award.

The contracts with Airbus and Thales shut out OHB Team, the prime contractor for the present-day era of Galileo satellites. The European Fee mentioned in its announcement that the European Area Company, which associates with the EU on Galileo, done a two-thirty day period technical and economic evaluation and suggested the awards to Airbus and Thales.

The statement noted there have been 3 bidders, but did not disclose the 3rd bidder. Having said that, in a Jan. 20 announcement, OHB acknowledged that it experienced submitted a proposal and had been educated by ESA that it was not profitable. That determination, it added, did not affect its ongoing deal to provide 34 Galileo satellites, 22 of which have by now been delivered with the remaining 12 in a variety of phases of generation.

OHB partnered with Surrey Satellite Technological innovation Ltd. (SSTL) for the existing Galileo satellite agreement, with SSTL giving the navigation payload. These a partnership would not have been doable for the following-technology Galileo satellites considering that the United Kingdom, wherever SSTL is centered, has remaining the EU and can no more time participate in the Galileo method.

At a Jan. 14 press briefing, Paul Verhoef, director of navigation at ESA, mentioned SSTL shipped the last navigation payloads for the recent technology of Galileo satellites in November. “It is, of system, regrettable that the Uk is now excluded from the navigation courses of the EU,” he claimed.

“We never be expecting to see British isles participation on individuals courses,” he included, other that quite possibly elements not accessible in other places. “This is what it is. This is the political actuality of the working day.”