ESA has signed a contract for eight additional Galileo satellites that will bring the constellation to completion and allow the agency to start replacing older spacecraft. The contract, worth EUR324 million ($363.1 million) was signed on June 22 at the Paris Air and Space Show with a consortium led by prime contractor OHB, with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd overseeing navigation platforms.

According to ESA:

This is the third such satellite signing: the first four In Orbit Validation satellites were built by a consortium led by Airbus Defence and Space, while production of the next 22 Full Operational Capability (FOC) satellites was led by OHB.

These new batch satellites are based on the already qualified design of the previous Galileo FOC satellites, except for changes on the unit level – such as improvements based on lessons learned and reacting to obsolescence of parts.

ESA’s Director of the Galileo Program and Navigation-related Activities, Paul Verhoef, signed the contract with the CEO of OHB, Marco Fuchs and OHB Navigation Director Wolfgang Paetsch, in the presence of ESA Director General Jan Woerner and the EC’s Deputy Director-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Pierre Delsaux.

Original plans called for a total of 30 Galileo satellites. However, cost overruns meant that the final four satellites were not ordered with the first batch. It was always the goal to eventually order additional satellites to bring the constellation up to 30 satellites. With a total of eight satellites ordered, ESA will get the four needed to bring the constellation up to 30 spacecraft as well as to replace older spacecraft. The satellites under the new contract are expected to be delivered in 2019 and 2020.

With an expected 12-year lifespan, aging in-orbit Galileo satellites will start to need replacement early in the next decade. Deliveries are expected to begin around 2024.

Image Source: OHB System AG.