ESA announces competition to build next-generation Galileo constellation

ESA will initially place order for two satellites apiece from the selected providers. Follow-on contracts will cover the next 12 satellites in a constellation that will eventually be inclusive of 24 active satellites and up to six spares.

ESA announces competition to build next-generation Galileo constellation
ESA announces competition to build next-generation Galileo constellation

ESA announces competition to build next-generation Galileo constellation

Two companies will be selected by the European Space Agency to build the second generation of Galileo Navigation satellites under contracts to be signed in early 2021. According to a report by SpaceNews, Paul Verhoef, ESA director of navigation said that the intention of this competition is to retain two suppliers in a dual-source mode providing these satellites.

ESA will initially place order for two satellites apiece from the selected providers. Follow-on contracts will cover the next 12 satellites in a constellation that will eventually be inclusive of 24 active satellites and up to six spares.

Lutz Bertling, OHB chief strategy and development officer, mentioned during an Aug. 11 earnings call that, they see the probability to win, to be one of the two contractors involved in dual sourcing, significantly above 50%.

He added that they believe that it is very unlikely that somebody with such a heritage competing with two other companies that have zero heritage would not be selected. OHB has held its position as the prime contractor for satellites since 2011 when it bested an Airbus and Thales Alenia Space consortium in 2011 to build the Galileo first-generation constellation.

Philippe Pham, Airbus head of Earth observation, navigation and science, told SpaceNews that the second-generation Galileo satellites will comprise a “significantly different system” compared to the first generation, with upgraded technologies that Airbus is experienced in providing.

Pham stated by email that, they present advanced capabilities along with the latest technologies in payload processing, beam forming networks, active antennas and electric propulsion on board a larger and significantly more capable platform.

He added that Airbus has expertise in all these areas, with qualified products and proven heritage in managing large, complex space systems — all of which is essential to be considered as a serious contender and demonstrate compliance with the ambitious launch schedule before end 2024.

He also said that Airbus is preparing a competitive bid that “very few can rival”. Martin Van Schaik, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Thales Alenia Space said that they believe it will be competitive, but Thales Alenia Space has all the assets to match Galileo 2nd generation requirements.