In preparing the GSTB-v2A satellite for ESA, SSTL will draw heavily on the results of the UK British National Space Centre’s ‘MOSAIC’ initiative, which partly funded the company’s development of a low-cost geostationary communications satellite.The European Space Agency (ESA) awarded Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) in the UK a contract Friday to construct the first test satellite for Europe’s global navigation system, Galileo. In a contract to SSTL worth 28 million euros ($US33 million), the demonstrator satellite known as the ‘Galileo System Test Bed v2A (GSTB-v2A)’ will provide the first Galileo navigation signal from space, measure the radiation environment in the proposed Galileo orbit and assist with international radio regulation issues. Using GSTB-v2A, to be launched into a 23,616 km circular 56° inclination medium Earth orbit, ESA will be able to obtain an early experimental signal for the demonstration of Galileo technology and have an opportunity to test key European technologies in the harsh space environment that the operational Galileo satellites will encounter. The results from the GSTB-v2A mission will be taken into account in the follow-on projects that will develop the full Galileo constellation of 30 satellites. Having an in-orbit test bed satellite will greatly reduce the technical risks in the development of the full constellation. SSTL was selected by ESA for this critical first step in a huge programme because they have the greatest experience and track record on small satellites available in Europe and are able to meet the demanding schedule at a very competitive price. In preparing the GSTB-v2A satellite for ESA, SSTL will draw heavily on the results of the UK British National Space Centre’s ‘MOSAIC’ initiative, which partly funded the company’s development of a low-cost geostationary communications satellite.The award of the GSTB-v2A contract marks a momentous milestone in the provision of an independent European satellite navigation system. Galileo is Europe’s contribution to global navigation and is designed to operate alongside GPS providing the users with much better performance than GPS on its own.