France: The ESA launched ninth and tenth Galileo satellites have started broadcasting working navigation messages. The operations team, led by SpaceOpal GmbH, successfully completed the testing campaign few days ahead of schedule, with the satellites beginning to broadcast valid navigation signals on 29 January. At the moment the satellites are transmitting navigation signals for technical validation purposes, being employed by Galileo engineers as well as the rest of the satnav industry to prepare Galileo-compatible products and services.
“This is the first recurrent launch of Galileo Full Operational Capability satellites from an In-Orbit Test point of view,” comments Christian Lezy, supervising the measurement campaign in Redu. The testing was coordinated from the Galileo Control Centres in Oberpfaffenhofen in Germany – performing the command and control of the satellites – and Fucino in Italy – overseeing the provision of navigation messages to users. The complete Galileo constellation will be made up of 24 satellites across three orbital planes, with two ‘active spare’ satellites per orbital plane, ready to plug any gap in service should an operational Galileo malfunction.