Deployment of the solar wings on the latest Galileo satellite is shown being checked at ESA’s technical hub in the Netherlands. The navigation satellite’s pair of 1 x 5 m solar wings, carrying more than 2500 state-of-the-art gallium arsenide solar cells, will power the satellite during its 12-year working life.
A counterweighted rig supports the deployment, otherwise the delicate fold-out wings – designed for the weightlessness of space – would crumple under the pull of Earth gravity.
With the first four Galileo ‘In-Orbit Validation’ satellites already in orbit, this is the first of the rest of Europe’s satnav constellation.
These ‘Full Operational Capability’ satellites provide the same operational services as their predecessors, but they are built by a new industrial team: OHB in Bremen, Germany build the satellites with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd in Guildford, UK contributing the navigation payloads.
- ESA is the acronym of the European Space Agency;
- Galileo is the name of the European Satellite Navigation programme.