Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space concludes Galileo* In-Orbit Test successfully

Noordwijk, 3 July 2008 – During the approximately two months of testing in space, known as the In-Orbit Test (IOT) phase, the Giove-B navigation satellite has shown that it is capable of excellent performance. Engineers from Airbus Defence and Space, the prime contractor for Giove-B, presented the results of the tests at the European Space Research and Technology Centre ESTEC in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.


  • Giove-B delivers precise results in space
  • Tests confirm spacecraft’s reliability and readiness for IOV

The key components of the Galileo* system, particularly the new signal generator and the extremely accurate Passive Hydrogen Maser atomic clock, proved to be perfectly fit for purpose, even when tested under real-time conditions. The European Space Agency ESA, on whose behalf the mission is being conducted, confirmed the successful conclusion of the test phase during the In-Orbit Test Review (ITR) which took place on 3 July 2008.

Dr. Reinhold Lutz, Airbus Defence and Space’s Senior Vice President Navigation: “Now that we have checked out every last detail of Giove-B’s real capabilities, we can confidently say that the satellite is operating and transmitting perfectly. The successful results of every single test performed prove that the platform and its payload are ready to go into service. The quality of the signals and the accuracy of the atomic clocks provide the best possible evidence that the Galileo* technology really does deliver the added value that we had hoped to obtain from the system. Our customer and we at Airbus Defence and Space are also very proud of the world’s most advanced navigation satellite. As the test confirms, our company now has the necessary technological skills to take the spacecraft on through the in-orbit validation phase and continue building the system up to Full Operational Capability,” emphasises Lutz.

Giove-B is the first satellite to carry actual Galileo* technology on board, and thus leads on directly to the In-Orbit Validation (IOV) phase of the European satellite navigation system. It is equipped with completely new instruments and standards, which have now impressively demonstrated their distinct advantages in space:

One of the two key components is the signal generator, which is already transmitting standard signals defined for Galileo. The tests involved running through a variety of scenarios such as switching from the first payload chain to the second, and employing different combinations of frequencies. Ground-based receiver antennas are used to record the signal quality, accuracy and modulation.

The other key component of the satellite, the Space Passive Hydrogen Maser (S-PHM) atomic clock which keeps time ten times more accurately than the rubidium atomic clocks, functioned to full satisfaction. The instrumentation on Giove-B is configured in such a way that the output of the atomic clock is handed down the entire transmission chain, producing navigation signals of the superior accuracy that is the hallmark of the Galileo* system.

One particularly revealing set of results was obtained by comparing the satellite’s performance in space with its assessment during tests on the ground. The results achieved by Giove-B were fully in accord with the specifications defined by the customer. Airbus Defence and Space has successfully mastered the challenges associated with the new generation of navigation satellites. The Giove-B satellite meets all requirements for stable operation over a lifetime of 24 months, thus fulfilling its mission as a Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element.

The Giove-B mission is continuing exactly according to plan. Between now and 2010 four more navigation satellites, currently being built by prime contractor Airbus Defence and Space, will go into operation in space as part of the system’s In-Orbit Validation (IOV) phase.

Airbus Defence and Space offers all the technologies and services required for setting up the European satellite navigation system. The company played a decisive role in the development of a sustainable, integrated system architecture, designed the space segment and the ground control facilities, and will bring with its partners the development programme to a successful conclusion. Airbus Defence and Space won recognition in all relevant system studies on the strength of its all-round expertise.

  • Galileo – the European global navigation satellite system

Airbus Defence and Space, a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2007, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover of €3.5 billion and 12,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Airbus Defence and Space for launchers and orbital infrastructure, and Airbus Defence and Space for spacecraft and ground segment, and its wholly owned subsidiary Airbus Defence and Space for the development and delivery of satellite services. AIRBUS Group is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2007, AIRBUS Group generated revenues of €39.1 billion and employed a workforce of more than 116, 000.


Media Contacts:

Matthieu Duvelleroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR)Phone: +33 (0)1 77 75 80 32

Jeremy Close (Airbus Defence and Space UK) Phone: +44 (0)1 438 77 3872

Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP) Phone: +34 91 586 37 41