Into orbit with Galileo
Galileo is the European equivalent of the American GPS. By 2020, this new navigation system will operate using 30 satellites orbiting the Earth – featuring products from HUBER+SUHNER.
Galileo, the civil European satellite navigation system for independent navigation and location services, is currently being established by the European Union and the European Space Agency (ESA). With 30 satellites and the corresponding terrestrial infrastructure, it will offer five different services as of 2020. The first three services will, however, come online in 2014 using 18 satellites. These are the public service, used for precision vehicle navigation and land measurements; the government service, which will be used as a backup to safeguard military operations; and the search and rescue service, which will track emergency transmitters on trains, boats or planes and, in the case of distress calls, send location information to a satellite that can forward the details to the responsible emergency service within seconds. The commercial and secure services will follow later and provide additional functions.
Navigation within buildings
Galileo is compatible with the two existing satellite navigations system: the American GPS and Russian Glonass. Galileo and GPS transmit their signals in two independent but shared frequency ranges, meaning that navigation devices are able to use the data provided by both systems. This will allow highly precise navigation with an accuracy of around just one metre, both horizontally and vertically, compared to the 10 to 20 metres currently possible. For this first time, this will enable navigation within buildings as the receiving device will be able to use precise altitude information to identify the correct floor. This will, however, only be possible if the device is receiving a strong satellite signal. If the building itself causes the signal to become too weak, navigation will naturally become less accurate.
MMBX for space
The first two Galileo satellites have been orbiting the Earth since October 2011. They were joined by a second pair in October 2012. These four satellites are being used to test the infrastructure’s functional capacity, both in space and on the ground. A further 14 satellites will then enter orbit during 2013 and 2014, featuring radio frequency assemblies from HUBER+SUHNER for connecting the navigation antenna to the satellite. Since the radio frequency power was increased during Galileo’s development, the various components involved also needed to be modified to meet the new requirements. HUBER+SUHNER is providing cable assemblies with MMBX type connectors that are capable of transferring the higher power level required. These connectors feature a special design with excellent properties that better shields the inner and outer conductors from each other using overlapping insulators in the connector and on the transition to the cable. This prevents resonance, which could cause the emission of undesirable electrons to snowball and impair the transfer (multipactor effect).
HUBER+SUHNER has already delivered around 4,500 components to its direct customer for use in 18 satellites. To ensure that the individual parts meet the strict ESA requirements for use in space, they are assembled in a special cleanroom at HUBER+SUHNER in Herisau, Switzerland.
A perfect match
The ESA and HUBER+SUHNER first collaborated in 2007 when HUBER+SUHNER won an ESA tender to develop new connector. This resulted in the PSM (Power Sub-Miniature) connector: a connector as small and light as an SMA that nevertheless meets the performance requirements of the much larger and heavier TNC connector. PMC connectors are now used in a range of space applications around the world. In the meantime, HUBER+SUHNER has demonstrated its expertise to the ESA and the direct customer alike, and is regularly called upon to help solve problems. An excellent basis for navigating the road ahead together.