Airbus Defence and Space

Green light from Baikonur: Giove-B ready for launch

Baikonur, 24 April 2008 - The European satellite navigation system Galileo is a step nearer to becoming a reality: The Giove-B navigation satellite has received unconditional clearance for launch. The Soyuz launch vehicle with the satellite on board has already taken up its final launch position at Baikonur Cosmodrome. Giove-B is scheduled to lift off at 00:16 (CEST) on 27 April 2008 and move into the orbital path reserved for Galileo at an altitude of over 23,000 km. Developed and manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space, the satellite will carry Galileo’s key technologies into space for the first time, and is a trailblazer for the overall system.


  • Approved for launch
  • All systems operating correctly
  • Communications with control centre in Fucino tested
  • Galileo technology goes into space

Prior to this, Giove-B underwent final tests at the European Space Research and Technology Centre ESTEC of the European Space Agency ESA in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. As prime contractor, Airbus Defence and Space was responsible for manufacturing the navigation satellite, which it completed on schedule as agreed with the customer.

Dr. Oliver Juckenhöfel, head of future navigation projects at Airbus Defence and Space GmbH, outlines the milestones in the satellite’s development: “Giove-B survived the journey to Baikonur very well. The fact that all systems are now operating exactly as expected makes us very optimistic. Another milestone was successfully establishing communications with the mission control centre near Rome”.

“Our team tests every single step before, during and after launch, to ensure that Giove-B will have a safe journey into orbit. When it gets there, Europe’s most advanced navigation satellite will demonstrate the outstanding achievements of European technology in space,” declares Juckenhöfel.

Albrecht Woelker, Giove-B project manager at Airbus Defence and Space GmbH, comments on the final preparations for launch: “Giove-B passed its comprehensive tests successfully. After having being mounted on the Fregat upper stage of the Soyuz launcher, the satellite is now ready for launch precisely on schedule.

“Our Airbus Defence and Space teams on site at Baikonur Cosmodrome and at the ground control centre in Fucino near Rome are monitoring the final launch preparations in close agreement with ESA and the people responsible for the rocket, and carrying out the ‘dress rehearsal’ for countdown. The commissioning of Giove-B will move the Galileo programme a decisive step forwards.”

As prime contractor for Giove-B, Airbus Defence and Space is responsible for developing, manufacturing and delivering the satellite, its payload and the ground control segment. The German Airbus Defence and Space site in Ottobrunn is supplying a broad cross-section of its product range in the form of the avionic subsystem with central on-board computer, the assembly of the photovoltaic cells within, the solar generator. Airbus Defence and Space UK designed and manufactured the payload, which included integrating and testing the Space Passive Hydrogen Maser (S-PHM) clock within it. The Portsmouth-based team was also responsible for the development, installation and test of the Ground Satellite Control system at the operations centre in Fucino, Italy, as well as at the IOT (In Orbit Test) station in Redu, Belgium, including the antenna. Airbus Defence and Space in Madrid delivered the structure and the thermal subsystem for the payload, the L-band navigation antenna as well as the payload adapter and separation system used during the launch. The French Airbus Defence and Space team in Les Mureaux provided the panels for the solar generator. The Airbus Defence and Space specialists in Lampoldshausen produced the propulsion subsystem and filled the satellite’s tanks with hydrazine fuel at its launch location in Baikonur.

Giove-B is the first representative Galileo satellite to be completed by Airbus Defence and Space. On Giove-B, the Passive Hydrogen Maser technology in the atomic clock will make its debut in space. It is far more accurate and robust than the rubidium (Rb) technology used in previous navigation systems, and will therefore become an additional item of standard equipment on Galileo. The signal generator on Giove-B, the core element of the navigation payload, will immediately begin to transmit the full range of signals applicable to the overall system.

Giove-B serves as a reference and forms the link to the in-orbit validation (IOV) phase, in which Airbus Defence and Space as prime contractor is already building four further satellites. The IOV phase is a critical milestone in the set-up of the system, which will have a total of 30 navigation satellites and be fully operational by 2013.

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 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.

About Airbus Defence and Space

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.

Galileo – the European global navigation satellite system


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 (0) 91 586 37 41