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April 17, 2008

Satellite Launch Will Aid DoD GNSS Users to Anticipate Space Weather Effects

On Wednesday (April 16), a U.S. Air Force team successfully launched the Communication/Navigation Outage Forecasting System (C/NOFS), an experimental satellite designed to monitor the ionosphere and predict conditions that would disturb radio communications, including GNSS signals.

The satellite was ultimately deployed from a Pegasus rocket following an air launch from a Lockheed L-1011 that had taken off from Kwajalein Atoll in the mid-Pacific Ocean. First transmissions from the spacecraft were acquired shortly after it reached orbit.

April 16, 2008

ESA Creates Galileo Directorate, Appoints Oosterlinck

In an April 15 meeting, the Council of the European Space Agency (ESA) has created a Galileo Directorate to accommodate the agency’s newly enhanced role in Europe’s GNSS program.

Acting on recommendations of ESA’s Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain, the council agreed to bring back René Oosterlinck, former head of the Navigation Department, to serve as the director of the Galileo program and navigation-related activities (D/GAL) through the end of 2010.

April 8, 2008

GSA Releases Second Galileo SIS ICD

The European GNSS Supervisory Authority (GSA) has released a new version of the provisional Galileo Open Service Signal-In-Space Interface Control Document (SIS ICD).

The new SIS ICD will enable developers to create products and applications that employ the Galileo system and signals. The new document is open for public consultation.

April 8, 2008

Europe’s Transport Ministers, Parliamentary Committee Okay New Galileo Deal

The European Transport Council and the European Parliament’s industry committee have approved new institutional arrangements for the €3.4-billion Galileo program that help pave the way for the European Space Agency to start a tender for contracts.

The regulation would also continue operation of the European GNSS Supervisory Authority (GSA) while setting up a new Galileo Inter-Institutional Panel (GIP), with three members each from the parliament and the transport council and one from the European Commission (EC).

April 7, 2008

EADS Astrium Buys Surrey Satellite

EADS Astrium has signed an agreement to acquire Guildford, United Kingdom–based Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) from the University of Surrey.

SSTL designed and built the first Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element (GIOVE-A), the only European GNSS satellite currently on orbit. The company also is building a second GIOVE-A spacecraft under contract to the European Space Agency (ESA).

April 5, 2008

U.S. Officials Encourage Industry Participation in APEC GNSS Events

The U.S. State Department and the National Coordination Office (NCO) for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) are soliciting participation from the GPS industry in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) organization’s GNSS Innovation Summit and the 12th GNSS Implementation Team (GIT) Meeting to be held in Bangkok, Thailand, in May.

The Innovation Summit takes place May 26–27, followed by the GIT meeting May 28–30.

April 4, 2008

DoT Rescues NDGPS Project

The Nationwide Differential Global Positioning System (NDGPS) program has been salvaged from the political limbo in which it has resided for more than a year.

Following completion of an assessment by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT), the agency has decided to continue full NDGPS operations. Currently, 86 stations are operating with support from three federal agencies: the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG, 39 sites), the Army Corps of Engineers (9 site), and the DoT (38 sites operated and maintained by the USCG under contract).

April 4, 2008

Jules Verne Automatic Transfer Vehicle Guided to ISS by Thales Alenia GPS System

Europe’s Jules Verne Automatic Transfer Vehicle (ATV) that docked Thursday (April 3) at the International Space Station (ISS) is operating with a guidance, navigation control (GNC) system based on a GPS receiver developed by Thales Alenia Space Italia (TASI).

The GNC unit provides accurate position and velocity information for the ATV orbit control and rendezvous operation with the ISS. The Jules Verne completed its first space cargo voyage — 25 days long — docking the 10,470-kilogram (23,034-pound) ATV with the station, orbiting the Earth at 28,000 kilometers per hour.

According to the European Space Agency (ESA), this docking marks the beginning of Jules Verne’s main servicing mission to deliver cargo, propellant, water, oxygen and propulsion capacity to the station, as well as ESA’s entry into the restricted club of the partners able to access the orbital facility by their own means.

April 3, 2008

First Civil Funds for GPS Program

The GPS program has passed a milestone of sorts with the first allocation of funds from civil agencies to pay for a portion of the core GPS budget.

The Fiscal Year 2008 (FY08) budget for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) sets aside $7.2 million as the first installment on the civil share of GPS modernization efforts, including the L1C signal that will be transmitted on the GPS Block III satellites and costs of monitoring the civil GPS signals in the modernized ground control segment (OCX). For the FY09 budget, the Bush administration has requested a $20.7 million allocation. The total five-year civil contribution (FY09-13) is expected to be more than $200 million.

March 19, 2008

GIOVE-B Reaches Baikonur Launch Site, Undergoes Pre-Flight Check

GIOVE-B, the second Galileo in-orbit validation satellite, has arrived safely at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where it is undergoing pre-flight checks in preparation for its launch early on April 26.

After completing final tests at the European Space Agency (ESA) space technology center in Noordwijk, The Netherlands, the spacecraft was transported to Baikonur aboard an Antonov An-124 cargo aircraft.

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