Advanced Television

ESA wants initial €100m for LEO test system

September 28, 2022

The European Space Agency (ESA) is looking for its member states to fund an initial €100 million for a mini-constellation of between 6-12 low Earth orbiting (LEO) test satellites to launch during 2026. The cash will be used to build and launch the new constellation.

If the tests work out then the bill will be much greater and ESA is talking of about 200 satellites operating at 600-700 kms altitude.

The tests are designed as ‘proof of concept’ for a ‘next generation’ fleet of global positioning craft and to provide frequency diversity for the existing ‘Galileo’ satellites which work in L-band and orbit at the much higher altitudes of 23,000 kms.

The test craft will specifically address the key ‘PNT’ requirements (Positioning, Navigation and Timing) and in general “develop innovative solutions, stimulating business and supporting ESA’s member states” (which includes the UK).

The first batch of 6 satellites (out of 12 in total), with contracts in place with Airbus and Thales Alenia, are expected to launch in 2025-2026. A second batch of another 12 is likely to be procured in 2025-2026.

Described by ESA as ‘Gen-2’ Galileo satellites they are heavier (at about 2100 kgs) and more powerful, fully digital and are designed with reconfigurable frequencies which can be modified while in orbit. They are also specified with inter-satellite laser links.

ESA says they will have a life expectancy of 15 years, and perhaps more.

ESA says that today’s European ‘Galileo’ global positioning system is the world’s most accurate sat-nav with some 3.5 billion users.

Categories: Blogs, Inside Satellite, Satellite

Tags: , , , ,