The European project Galileo is gaining momentum – on 12 November 2010, Munich-based company spaceopal GmbH commissioned DLR GfR to operate the Galileo Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen. spaceopal, a German-Italian joint venture, had previously signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) in Brussels for the preparation and overall operation of 18 Galileo satellites. A partial contract from this work package has now been issued to DLR GfR, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The volume of the contract is approx. 60 million Euro.
DLR GfR services
DLR GfR’s specific area of responsibility is the safe and reliable operation of 18 Galileo satellites which are sent into orbit in succession from October 2011 onwards. Correct functioning of the satellites is essential for optimum satellite navigation. The tasks include synchronising the atomic clocks on board the satellites, high-precision determination of the orbit of the satellites and production of the navigation report. Monitoring of the navigation service is also carried out by the second Galileo Control Centre in Italy. The first navigation services will be made available from 2014. “DLR GfR sees itself as an essential element within the overall structure of Galileo operational services. With our contribution, we aim to help the European satellite navigation system become a success,” explained DLR GfR Director, Walter Päffgen, at the signing of the contract in Munich.
As a subsidiary of the DLR, DLR GfR can build on the 40 years of experience in space flight operations at the Oberpfaffenhofen site. Since the planning of the Galileo Control Centre began in 2006, the institution has specialised in the unique satellite navigation system Galileo. DLR GfR can put this expertise into practice with immediate effect and expand it during operation. With regard to the site, Bavarian Minister for Economics Martin Zeil said: “This is an important milestone for Bavarian aerospace policy. Bavaria has supported Project Galileo from the very beginning and contributed ten million Euro to the construction of the control centre in Oberpfaffenhofen.”
A worldwide network of up to 30 antenna stations is being built to enable communication with the satellites. The network and antenna stations are connected to the Galileo Control Centre, from where they will be monitored. Approximately 40 employees currently work in this area in Oberpfaffenhofen. After the development phase, a further 40 job vacancies will be created in long-term operational services, both in technical and in administrative roles. DLR GfR is also seeking to obtain the contract for long-term operation of the Galileo system from 2014. Today’s contract has established the necessary foundation.
Galileo is a joint initiative between the European Union (EU) and the European Space Agency (ESA). The programme is funded by the EU.