Irish companies play a part in launch of Europe’s first Galileo satellites

Europe’s first Galileo navigation satellites on board Russia’s first Soyuz rocket ready for lift-off from Europe’s SpaceportAt 11.34am GMT today (20th October, 2011), seven Irish companies will watch the launch of the first two Galileo navigation satellites with pride, as they helped in the initial development phase of the Galileo programme.

Europe’s first Galileo navigation satellites on board Russia’s first Soyuz rocket ready for lift-off from Europe’s Spaceport

Through Ireland’s membership of the European Space Agency (ESA), these companies, with support from Enterprise Ireland, were able to secure contracts from ESA worth an initial total value of €3.5 million to develop and supply components for the Galileo satellites and the extensive ground-based network of the satellite control system.

The Irish companies involved are; Airtel ATN Ltd, Dublin; Daysha Consulting Ltd, Dublin; Measurement Specialities (MSI), Galway; The National Space Centre Ltd, Midleton, Cork; Skytek Ltd, Dublin; Sogeti, Dublin and Galway and Zelinda Ltd, Waterford.

The Galileo programme is Europe's initiative for a state-of-the-art global satellite navigation system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control. The fully deployed system will consist of 30 satellites and the associated ground infrastructure.

The launch of these first two Galileo satellites will be followed next year by two more. This quartet of satellites will form the operational nucleus of the full Galileo satnav constellation.

They combine the best atomic clock ever flown for navigation – accurate to one second in three million years – with a powerful transmitter to broadcast precise navigation signals.Galileo will be inter-operable with GPS and GLONASS, the two other global satellite navigation systems.

Congratulating the Irish companies involved, Sean Sherlock T.D. Minister for Research & Innovation said “this is an excellent example of how small Irish companies located in rural areas can succeed in highly competitive markets, by concentrating on highly innovative technology.Ireland’s continuing membership of ESA provides an opportunity for Irish high tech firms with support from Enterprise Ireland to bid on ESA contracts to develop new products, exports sales and support high value job creation in Ireland,”

Galileo will give Europe independence in satellite navigation, a sector that has become very important for its economy (about 7% of the EU GDP in 2009) and the well-being of its citizens.

Independent studies also show that Galileo will deliver around €90 billion to the EU economy over the first 20 years of operations, in the form of direct revenues for the space, receivers and applications industries and in the form of indirect revenues for society (more effective transport systems, more effective rescue operations etc.)

The information supplied by the satellites will have many important uses including the location of people lost at sea with a 3 meters accuracy, guiding tractors by satellite for higher crop yields with much less fertilizer, reducing fuel and time consumption on the road thanks to a better traffic management, making flights and landings safer: this is not science fiction, these applications are already being tested now. 

Thanks to its accuracy Galileo opens the doors to a huge range of innovative applications making every day life easier and safer.

According to Tony McDonald, Enterprise Ireland, “major opportunities for Irish companies lie in the development of innovative applications of the Galileo system, when fully deployed, in areas such as transportation, maritime and environmental monitoring.  Enterprise Ireland is working with a number of Irish companies to identify such development opportunities, through the programmes of the European Space Agency and the EU Framework Programmes.”

More details on the contribution of Irish companies to the initial Galileo development phase;

  • Airtel ATN Ltd based in Dublin has been active in the development of software that ensures the integrity of the Galileo user service. Airtel has provided the test tools used to verify the Galileo Sensor Stations (GSS) hardware and software.. In addition, Airtel participated in the development of software for the Integrity Processing Facility (IPF), which monitors the data from the GSSs and identifies errors in real time, thus ensuring a high level of signal integrity. 
  • Daysha Consulting Ltd was involved in Assembly, Integration, Testing of critical software for the ground network of the Galileo satellite control system.  Daysha had specific responsibility for completion of Product Assurance for the Galileo Ground Sensor Station (GSS)  network. 
  • Measurement Specialties (MSI)  based in Galway have been involved in the Galileo programme since the initial development phase and will be involved in the supply of space qualified electronic components for the Galileo operational satellite constellation. 
  • Skytekhas been a leading player in the creation of information and operation based tools since the mid 1990’s. Clients include the European Space Agency and NASA. From space, the company is now addressing the more terrestrial needs of complex industries such as natural resource mining and aerospace.
  • Sogetiis a global leader in the provision of IT services with over 20,000 personnel in Europe, Asia and the USA.  Collectively they are part of the Capgemini Group with 110,000 employees worldwide. The Irish Sogeti organisation provides consulting, programme management, development, SAP and testing services.
  • The National Space Centre Ltd  Earthstation, based at Elfordstown in Midleton, Cork is an approved ESA sub-contractor for the Galileo Programme, undertaking work relating to the network of Galileo control station, located throughout Europe. 
  • ZelindaLtd is a small company, based near Waterford, which specialises in Digital signal Processing (DSP) and Communications for the Space industry. As part of an international consortium Zelinda’s first contract for Galileo was to design the digital signal processing for a test system that would generate the “integrity” and “control” signals that are sent up from the ground to the Galileo satellites.   The “integrity” signals are relayed by the Galileo satellites to the users where they are used to confirm the correct operation of the system.  This test system has been integrated into the complete satellite test system which was used to validate all the Galileo satellites prior to Thursday’s launch. More recently Zelinda won the contract to design the signal processing at the heart of the modem now used in all Galileo ground stations around the world.   These ground stations are responsible for control and health monitoring of each satellite.   Thanks in part to the experience gained in this work Zelinda then won the contract to design the digital heart of the new telemetry, ranging and command transponders that will be fitted to the next generation of Galileo satellites currently in manufacture.

For more information and a live webstreaming of the launch at 11.34am GMT on Thursday 20th October visit the European Space Agency’s website



Grace Labanyi
Enterprise Ireland
Communications Officer

Grace Labanyi
+353 1 7272746 
+353 87 3286404