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Testing suspended on Galileo Batch 3 satellites

In response to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the test campaign for first two satellites of Galileo’s Batch 3 has been suspended.

The suspension is based on the medical advice for social distancing — too high a concentration of people is needed on site if testing were to continue, according to the European Space Agency (ESA).

An aerial view of ESTEC. The Erasmus building is at front right. The T building (home to ESA's Galileo team) is in the foreground. (Photo: ESTEC)

An aerial view of ESTEC. The Erasmus building is at front right. The T building (home to ESA’s Galileo team) is in the foreground. (Photo: ESTEC)

The satellites are based at the ESTEC Test Centre in the Netherlands for engineering tests ahead of launch. The stored satellites are being monitored by staff visiting ESTEC every few days, to verify that all is in order.

Other Galileo-related testing continues with the aim of supporting future launches. ESTEC-based lifetime testing of the next set of rubidium atomic clocks is set to continue, involving on-site monitoring every few days.

Working from home

ESA’s Directorate of Navigation has shifted to teleworking while also ensuring the continuity of essential tasks, in particular the continued delivery of positioning, navigation and timing services of both Galileo and EGNOS.

The ESA team is using video and audio conferences to continue meetings with the industries involved and minimize the impact on the deliveries of EGNOS upgrades, Galileo Batch 3 satellites, and preparatory work for Galileo Second Generation.

The national, local and industrial decisions on travel, meetings and quarantine are impacting the ability to deliver all ongoing commitments, so measures are being taken to minimize their impact, ESA said in a press release.

Priority has been given to ensure continued operations of both EGNOS and Galileo, so the ESA Navigation Directorate has been supporting the European GNSS Agency (GSA), the operator of Galileo and EGNOS, on behalf of the European Commission.

The team also is maintaining constant contact with various stakeholders.

NAVISP and Horizon 2020

Research and development projects under the Directorate’s Navigation Innovation and Support Programme (NAVISP) are continuing at a somewhat slower pace, given the crisis. So are satellite navigation projects financed by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, which develop future technology for the EU satellite navigation projects.

“Confronted with this unprecedented situation, our efforts are focussing on business continuity and supporting the GSA with services provision of Galileo and EGNOS, while taking all necessary measures to protect our personnel,” said Paul Verhoef, ESA Director of Navigation. “An impact assessment will only be possible when we see the end of the restrictions in the various European countries. For the time being, stay home, stay healthy, is the priority, whereas however we are in close contact with industry to try and keep momentum on the projects that are underway.”

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