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The European satellite navigation system is being expanded with twelve new satellites. The European Space Agency ESA has signed two similar contracts with Thales Alenia Space (Italy) and Airbus Defense & Space (Germany), and agreed that two independent satellite families with a total of twelve second-generation Galileo satellites will be built. The total value of the contracts is 1.5 billion euros. The contracts could now be signed after an objection to the award was dismissed in court.

Zwölf neue Satelliten für Galileo
Photo: ESA

"The second generation of Galileo will be a further step forward, with the use of many innovative technologies to ensure unprecedented precision, robustness and flexibility of the system for the benefit of users worldwide." commented Paul Verhoef, ESA Director for Navigation.

Galileo is Europe's civil global satellite navigation system that is currently considered to be the most precise in the world. The system sends the data to the exact meter. Now this accuracy is to be improved to the decimeter range. It has more than two billion users around the globe.

The Galileo satellites of the second generation (G2) will revolutionize the Galileo fleet. They complement the 26 first-generation Galileo satellites in orbit today and the twelve “Batch 3” satellites currently in production and testing. The first launch of these Batch 3 satellites will take place this year.

Zwölf neue Satelliten für Galileo
Zwölf neue Satelliten für Galileo

The new G2 satellites will be built in a short time frame. Their first launch is expected in less than four years, so they can start operating in space as soon as possible.

Gerhard Heiming