The contract, carried out under a programme of the European Union, is the result of years of collaboration between the two Dutch companies to power the Galileo constellation. To date, Airborne delivered 88 panels to Airbus DS NL, which has also been prime contractor for the solar arrays of the 22 Galileo satellites already built. Currently, 18 of these Galileo satellites are operational in orbit. The new batch of 12 satellites is planned to be launched from 2020 to 2023. The Galileo programme is funded by the European Committee and procured by ESA.
“We are very proud to have signed our 20th contract with Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands,” states Arno van Mourik, CEO of Airborne International. “We are looking back at some 10 years of great collaboration between our companies. We remain working on the challenge to keep improving the competitiveness of the panels. Thanks to our advanced composites production line and know how we have achieved an efficient production scheme of two to three panels per week.”
During the most recent Galileo launch, on 12 December, the Ariane 5 rocket carried four Galileo navigation satellites aboard, equipped with wings ‘all made in Holland’, in total including 16 solar array panels manufactured by Airborne. Each Galileo satellite is powered by two wings, consisting of two panels of 2.75 sqm. The satellites weight 715 kg and were released into a 22,922 km-altitude orbit. The quartet will begin around six months of tests to check they are ready to join the working Galileo constellation. Airbus DS NL is responsible for the design, qualification, manufacturing, assembly, integration and testing of the complete solar array system for Galileo FOC.