• 26.11.2021
  • Space
  • Media release

“Brain” and “coat” from RUAG Space for Galileo navigation satellites

RUAG Space delivered to OHB the computer (“brain”) and thermal insulation (“coat”) for the European Galileo navigation satellites to be launched on Thursday, December 2...

On Thursday, December 2 (CET) another two Galileo navigation satellites will be launched from Kourou in French Guiana aboard a Soyuz rocket. This will raise the number of Galileo satellites in orbit from currently 26 to 28. All Galileo satellites use products from RUAG Space, a leading supplier to the space industry. “We have played an important role in building the European Galileo navigation system from day one,” says Luis De León Chardel, Executive Vice President at RUAG Space, which supplied a range of mission critical mechanical, thermal and electronics products to the satellite builder OHB System AG in Bremen, Germany. 

“Brain” for Galileo satellites
RUAG Space supplied the onboard computer (“brain”) that controls and monitors the payload of the Galileo satellites and many other subsystems. The computer also monitors the satellite status, such as temperature, to ensure that the satellites are fully functional. Furthermore, RUAG Space delivered the mission antenna for the Galileo satellites. The antenna is used to upload mission data for the onboard signal generators. “This data is used to improve the satellite’s position, which is essential for everyone to have good positioning data for your phone, car or clock,” explains Anders Linder, Head of the global satellites business of RUAG Space.

Thermal insulation (“coat”) and mechanism

Once in orbit the Galileo satellites are protected from the 400 degrees Celsius temperature-differences it would experience on their hot sun-facing side and cold space-looking side by a thermal insulation (“coat”) from RUAG Space. This highly efficient insulation consists of several layers of metal-evaporated polyimide film. The sun is also the main power source of the satellites in orbit. To optimally align the solar array panels towards the sun rotating drive mechanisms are necessary. RUAG Space produced these mechanisms for the Galileo satellites.

RUAG Space dispenser places Galileo satellites in orbit

The European Galileo satellites will be sent to space with a Sojuz rocket. The dispenser from RUAG Space is a supporting structure that will hold the twin satellites firmly in place under the Soyuz fairing during launch. “The dispenser will help the satellites endure the loads and vibrations of launch,” says Holger Wentscher, Head of the launcher business at RUAG Space. Then, some four hours into flight at an altitude of 23000 km, the dispenser will deploy the satellites into orbit by firing a pyrotechnic separation system. A distancing system ensures their release in opposing directions from the dispenser. The dispenser has a structural mass of 150 kg. It carries and separates two Galileo satellites – each one weighing 700 kg – into orbit. Since around 40 years RUAG Space develops and produces separation systems at its site in Linköping, Sweden. Dispenser systems from RUAG Space are especially suitable for spacecraft constellations, where a large number of spacecrafts need to be placed in orbit in a short time frame.

Galileo provides global positioning, navigation and timing

The European Navigation System Galileo, also dubbed the “European GPS”, is created by the European Union through the European Space Agency (ESA) and operated by the European Union Agency for the Space Program. Galileo is a civil satellite navigation system that provides global positioning, navigation and timing. With at least four satellites constantly visible to the user, positioning becomes much more accurate than with previous systems, down to a meter.

Finding lost persons within 10 minutes

The Galileo system also provides a new global search and rescue service, which will be used for locating distressed people, e.g. a person lost in the desert, which needs to be located. RUAG Space contributes electronics to this Galileo search and rescue service. When Galileo search and rescue is in full operation, the time to detect a person who has disappeared at sea or in the mountains will be shortened from three hours to just ten minutes after activating an emergency transmitter.

RUAG Space: leading supplier

RUAG Space is the leading supplier to the space industry in Europe, and has a growing presence in the United States. Around 1,300 employees across six countries (Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, Germany, USA and Finland) develop and manufacture products for satellites and launch vehicles—for both the institutional and commercial space market. RUAG Space is part of RUAG International, a Swiss technology group. Visit www.ruag.com/space, or view our RUAG Space product portfolio video: https://youtu.be/qNbSjUdlXxQ

The Full Operational Capability phase of the Galileo program is managed and fully funded by the European Union. The Commission and ESA have signed a delegation agreement by which ESA acts as design and procurement agent on behalf of the Commission. The views expressed in this Press Release can in no way be taken to reflect the opinion of the European Union and/or ESA. “Galileo” is a trademark of the EU.

More about the launch: https://www.arianespace.com/press-release/vs26-mission-arianespace-at-the-service-of-european-satellite-navigation-with-galileo/



Picture 1: Galileo satellite in orbit. Copyright: OHB System AG. Download: https://www.ruag.com/system/files/media_document/2018-07/Bild%201%20Galileo-Formation_(c)_OHB-System-AG.JPG

Picture 2: Galileo is the European Union’s Global Navigation Satellite System. Galileo satellite in orbit. Copyright: ESA-P. Carril. Download: http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2014/07/Galileo_satellite_in_orbit

Picture 3: A dispenser from RUAG Space separates the two Galileo satellites from the Soyuz rocket’s upper stage and places the satellites in orbit. The dispenser will deploy the satellites into orbit by firing a pyrotechnic separation system. A distancing system ensures their release in opposing directions from the dispenser. Copyright:  ESA–Pierre Carril, 2014. Download image: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2014/07/Galileo_satellites_entering_free-flight


Picture 3: “We have played an important role in building the European Galileo navigation system from day one,” says Anders Linder from RUAG Space. Copyright RUAG Space. Download: https://www.ruag.com/system/files/media_document/2021-10/Anders%20Linder_2018-10-29-58_-Redigera_big_jpg.jpg



Video about the product portfolio of RUAG Space: https://youtu.be/qNbSjUdlXxQ

Video showing how society benefits from RUAG Space products: https://youtu.be/gWRzl2ByvRA


Media contacts RUAG Space:

RUAG Space, Philipp Bircher, philipp.bircher@ruag.com, T: +41 7979 011 81

RUAG Space, Christian Thalmayr, christian.thalmayr@ruag.com, T: +43 664 8874 7876

Web: www.ruag.com/space

Twitter: www.twitter.com/ruagspace


Media contact RUAG International:
Clemens Gähwiler, External Communication Manager, RUAG International, clemens.gaehwiler@ruag.com, T: +41 76 319 28 58