The European Commission awarded 1.47 billion euros ($1.78 billion) to Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Defence & Space to build and launch Europe’s second-generation Galileo satellite positioning system.
They will make six spacecraft each for the global navigation satellite system, with the first of them likely to go into orbit in 2024.
The latest order is designed to incorporate newer technologies that will improve the robustness and accuracy of the signals beamed down to Earth. These technologies include digitally configurable antennas, inter-satellite links, new atomic clocks, and propulsion systems that use electric engines.
The contracts with Airbus and Thales shut out OHB Group, the prime contractor for the current generation of Galileo satellites. OHB is building the 12 final Galileo first-generation satellites, which will support the system until the first batch of second-generation satellites is launched at the end of 2024.