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23rd March 2018, The Hague

Airborne to supply 48 panels for Galileo satellites

Airborne Aerospace, a technology leader in advanced composites, has been awarded a contract by Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands to manufacture 48 substrate panels for the solar arrays of twelve new Galileo FOC satellites. The contract, carried out under a programme of the EU, is the latest result of years of successful collaboration between the two Dutch companies to power the Galileo constellation.

To date, Airborne delivered 88 panels to Airbus DS NL, which has also been prime contractor for the solar arrays of the 22 Galileo satellites already built. Currently, 18 of these Galileo satellites are operational in orbit. The new batch of twelve satellites is planned to be launched from 2020 to 2023. The Galileo programme is funded by the European Committee and procured by ESA.

Improving panels

During the most recent Galileo launch, on 12 December, the Ariane 5 rocket carried four Galileo navigation satellites aboard, equipped with wings all made in Holland, in total including 16 solar array panels manufactured by Airborne.

Galileo is Europe’s own global navigation satellite system. © Airborne/ESA

Each Galileo satellite is powered by two wings, consisting of two panels of 2.75 sqm. The satellites weight 715 kg and were released into a 22 922 km-altitude orbit. The quartet will begin around six months of tests to check they are ready to join the working Galileo constellation. Airbus DS NL is responsible for the design, qualification, manufacturing, assembly, integration and testing of the complete solar array system for Galileo FOC.

“We are very proud to have signed our 20th contract with Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands. We are looking back at some 10 years of great collaboration between our companies. We remain working on the challenge to keep improving the competitiveness of the panels. Thanks to our advanced composites production line and know how we have achieved an efficient production scheme of two to three panels per week,” said Arno van Mourik, CEO of Airborne International.

Galileo navigation system

Galileo is Europe’s own global navigation satellite system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control. Once the constellation is fully operational, from most locations on Earth, six to eight satellites will always be visible, allowing positions to be determined very accurately – to within a few centimetres.

The Galileo navigation system is being developed by the European space agency ESA, commissioned by the European Commission. The contract to build and test the Galileo FOC satellites was awarded to a consortium led by prime contractor OHB, with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd overseeing their navigation platforms. The launch from the European launch base in Kourou, French Guyana, is being carried out by the powerful Ariane 5 rocket.

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