Sunday, March 18, 2012

Galileo Constellation in Trouble

GPS Block IIIA satellite

Things aren’t looking too good for the ESA as far as their Galileo constellation goes. GPS World reported last week that out of the six currently orbiting satellites, only one of them is working as expected, in the correct orbit and 100% fully operational. After the most recent incorrect deployment of two satellites, the expected operational date was pushed back from 2018 to 2020, but these reports make me wonder if it might be pushed back even further.

According to the article, satellite issues include problems with on board clocks, power-supply problems, reduced power and, of course, irregular orbits. All but two of the satellites are both working and usable. However, many of the problems are causing brief outages and small issues with the signals of the satellites.

Despite these discouraging results, I haven’t seen anything from the ESA or the Galileo team indicating that they’re giving up. In fact, many stories indicate that the operators of the two wayward satellites are still optimistic that they can be used in their current orbit or placed in a corrective orbit eventually. At the end of the day, missions in space are bound to have complications and risks, but I am certainly rooting for them.

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