The European Space Agency is preparing to select two companies to build the second generation of Galileo navigation satellites under contracts to be signed in early 2021.
The ESA-led competition, arranged on behalf of the European Commission, pits rising German manufacturer OHB against European heavyweights Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Defense and Space, Paul Verhoef, ESA director of navigation, told SpaceNews by email. “The intention is to retain two suppliers in a dual-source mode providing these satellites,” he said.
ESA will initially order two satellites apiece from the selected providers. Follow-on contracts will cover the next 12 satellites in a constellation that will eventually consist of 24 active satellites and up to six spares.
OHB, once a novice in satellite manufacturing, now finds itself in the role of the incumbent, having built 22 of the 26 Galileo satellites in orbit. Airbus and Thales Alenia Space Italy built the first four satellites, which were used to validate the concept for the larger constellation.