France: The Kiruna Galileo Station in the Swedish Arctic has been inaugurated. It will play a vital role communicating with the satellites of Europe’s global navigation system (Galileo), which are due to start launching next year.
Perched near the top of the European landmass, Kiruna will be one of two Telemetry, Tracking and Command (TT&C) Galileo stations during the In Orbit Validation (IOV) Phase – the other is in Kourou, French Guiana near the equator – to monitor the satellites and relay new commands as required from Galileo’s ground controllers at Oberpfaffenhofen in Germany and Fucino in Italy.
The Kiruna facility was inaugurated by René Oosterlinck, ESA’s Director of the Galileo Programme and Navigation-related Activities and Javier Benedicto, ESA’s Galileo Project Manager, together with Paul Verhoef, Programme Manager of EU Satellite Navigation Programmes at the European Commission, and Lars Persson, President and CEO of the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC).
The high-precision Galileo service requires a global network of ground stations to oversee the Galileo satellites in space – comprising a final total of 30 satellites in medium orbits, including three spares.
The Kiruna station is hosted at Esrange Space Center of the Swedish Space Corporation. It serves as a satellite ground station for control and tracking and launch site for sounding rockets and long duration stratospheric balloons.
The satellite station at Esrange Space Center performs control and tracking duties for a variety of satellites, and was previously used for the launch and early operations of the second Galileo testbed satellite, GIOVE-B, in 2008.
The Kiruna Galileo Station contains baseband and RF equipment, monitoring, control and network connections. In order to meet the stringent availability requirements for the Galileo system, all equipment is configured to include internal and external redundancy.