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Salvaged Galileo satellite performs its first navigation fix

on 22 December 2014

Galileo's fifth satellite – recently salvaged from the wrong orbit to begin navigation testing – has been combined with three predecessors to provide its very first position fix.

Test receivers at ESA’s technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, and at the Galileo In-Orbit Test station at Redu in Belgium received the signals on 9 December from the quartet of satellites and fixed their horizontal positions to better than 2 m.

This achievement is particularly significant because the fifth satellite is the first of a new design of 22 Galileos set to be launched over the next few years.

‘This is a significant milestone for the Galileo programme because it marks the very first time that a ‘Full Operational Capability’ satellite has performed a fix together with its ‘In-Orbit Validation’ predecessors – which were the first four satellites launched into orbit, in 2011 and 2012. This establishes they work together well’, explained Gustavo Lopez Risueno, coordinating the receiver team at the Navigation Laboratory in ESA’s ESTEC technical centre.

The fifth and sixth satellites were delivered into the wrong orbit by their Soyuz–Fregat rocket in August, and their’ shifting altitude prevented them from being used for navigation purposes. However, last month, a series of eleven manoeuvres took the fifth satellite into a more circular orbit, some 3500 km higher, allowing its navigation payload to be switched on for testing. A similar salvage operation is planned soon for its companion.

Details here.

Image credit: ESA/J. Huart