Thermal vacuum test successfully completed for the Galileo*-FOC satellite

The first FOC satellite in the future European navigation system Galileo has mastered the most difficult of all the environmental impact tests with flying colors. Over a period of four weeks, the satellite known as “Doresa” was tested under the most severe space conditions imaginable in the thermal vacuum chamber at European Test Services ETS, completing the tests with great success, as the OHB team reported today from Nordwijk in the Netherlands.

“The successful thermal vacuum test marks an important milestone in “Doresa’s” voyage into space and for the entire project. With the positive completion of environmental testing, the entire satellite design has passed its most important technical challenge,” explains Galileo project manager Dr. Pascal Knobloch. 

ETS operates the testing facilities. OHB System is the industrial prime contractor responsible for the total of 22 Galileo FOC satellites and installed the equipment specifically required for testing the satellite system in the thermal chamber. “Thanks to the good collaboration between the participating industrial teams, ETS and the experts at the European Space Agency ESA as our customer, it has been possible to complete the entire thermal vacuum testing campaign successfully,” says Dr. Ingo Engeln, the member of OHB’s Management Board responsible for Galileo. The thermal test is considered to be the most critical part of environmental verification testing. For this purpose, the satellite is exposed to extreme heat and cold in a vacuum chamber, where its functions are tested under space-like conditions.

The second FOC satellite “Milena” was mechanically qualified in October for launching on board a Soyuz rocket. This mechanical qualification test included also separation and shock tests from a representative launcher interface. The mechanical qualification tests as well as the thermal test are traditionally the greatest hurdles which a satellite project must clear.  The OHB FOC satellites have now successfully passed these two major milestones.

“Adam” and “Anastasia” - the third and fourth Galileo FOC satellites - are currently undergoing function testing at OHB’s clean rooms in Bremen, after which they will be shipped to the testing center in ESTEC, Nordwijk.  The production of the next satellites is also well advancing at the OHB production site in Bremen.

The Galileo satellites are named for the children who won a painting competition organized by the European Commission in 2011.

*The FOC (full operational capability) phase of the Galileo program is being funded and executed by the European Union. The European Commission and the European Space Agency ESA have signed a contract under which ESA acts as the development and sourcing agency on behalf of the Commission. The view expressed here does not necessary reflect the official position of the European Union and/or ESA. “Galileo” is a registered trademark owned by the EU and ESA and registered under OHIM application number 002742237.


The main antenna of the second Galileo Full Operational Capability (FOC) satellite being inspected with a flashlight in advance of mass property testing during August 2013.

The first Galileo Full Operational Capability (FOC) satellite beside the Phenix test chamber in the ESTEC Test Centre in October 2013, being readied for its thermal vacuum test. Note the thermal tent visible inside the chamber, used to reproduce the temperature extremes of Earth orbit.

Galileo Full Operational Capability (FOC) satellite first flight model, FM1, being prepared for 'passive intermodulation testing' within the Maxwell electromagnetic test facility inside the ESTEC Test Centre at the end of August 2013.

Credits: ESA-Anneke Le Floc'h

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