2008 04 27 Giove B launchedGIOVE-B launched
Neuer Galileo-Testsatellit im All<br /> A further step towards the deployment of Europe's Galileo global navigation satellite system was taken on 27 April, with the successful launch of ESA's second Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element (GIOVE-B) satellite, carrying the most accurate atomic clock ever flown into space.
The GIOVE-B satellite was lofted into a medium altitude orbit around the earth by a Soyuz/Fregat rocket departing from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan by launch operator Starsem. Lift-off occurred at 04:16 local time on 27 April (00:16 Central European Summer Time). The Fregat upper stage performed a series of manoeuvres to reach a circular orbit at an altitude of about 23,200 km, inclined at 56 degrees to the Equator, before safely delivering the satellite into orbit some 3 hours and 45 minutes later. The two solar panels that generate electricity to power the spacecraft deployed correctly and were fully operational by 05:28 CEST.
This 500 kg satellite was built by a European industrial team led by Astrium GmbH, with Thales Alenia Space performing integration and testing in Rome. Two years after the highly successful GIOVE-A mission, this latest satellite will continue the demonstration of critical technologies for the navigation payload of future operational Galileo satellites. Like its predecessor, GIOVE-B carries two redundant small-size rubidium atomic clocks, each with a stability of 10 nanoseconds per day. But it also features an even more accurate payload: the Passive Hydrogen Maser (PHM), with stability better than 1 nanosecond per day. The first of its kind ever to be launched into space, this is now the most stable clock operating in earth orbit. Two PHMs will be used as primary clocks onboard operational Galileo satellites, with two rubidium clocks serving as back-up.