Press Releases

How Nicole, Zofia, Alexandre and Irina will save lives from outer space

A further four Galileo satellites to be launched on December 12. The OHB satellites with children’s names perform important services, transmit emergency signs to rescue services more quickly and render payments in online banking secure.

Bremen, Kourou, December 11, 2017. Nicole, Zofia, Alexandre and Irina are buckled up and ready for their journey into space at the tip of the Ariane-5 launch vehicle at the Guyana space center in Kourou (French-Guyana). However, they are not astronauts destined for space but the four Galileo FOC satellites with the serial numbers 15, 16, 17 and 18, which have been built by OHB System AG, a subsidiary of Bremen-based space technology group OHB SE, and are to be placed in orbit tomorrow. They will be expanding the constellation of the Galileo European satellite navigation system.

In its capacity as the producer of the satellite platform and the system manager, OHB is responsible for the satellite design and platform, integration and verification for this quartet of satellites, just as it was with the FOC satellites that have already been launched.

Galileo offering valuable services

The Galileo European navigation system has its roots in a resolution by the European Union to create a new type of infrastructure for Europe. “The present geopolitical situation around the world shows amply how wise the decision was to establish an independent navigation system for Europe,” says Marco Fuchs, Chief Executive Officer of OHB SE. “In these volatile times, it is crucial to have full and unrestricted access to vital data flows. We are very proud to have made a decisive contribution to the Galileo program as a systems manager and the prime contractor for the satellites.”

In addition to the political/strategic benefits of the Galileo navigation system, the satellites also provide a number of applications which offer direct advantages for public and private life day for day.

  • According to the EU, the search and rescue (SAR) services provided by the Galileo satellites are able to dramatically reduce the time required to find and rescue people in emergencies both at sea and on the land. Preliminary experience gained in Norway shows that response times can be reduced by up to 46 minutes in tandem with a more than one-hundred-fold improvement in positioning accuracy compared with previous systems.
    For further information please visit
  • The improved precision and speed of the navigation signals will help to optimize the transportation of goods on land, at sea and in the air and enhance its efficiency. Positioning data aids fleet management and the dispatch of shipments.
  • Galileo navigation systems help the financial industry with their precise atomic clocks, which can be used as a time signal, thus offering an important means of authenticating payment transactions and the exchange of documents and making them secure and confidential. Certified time stamps based on the time signals generated by the Galileo clocks are indispensable for applications such as online banking, e-commerce, share trading and insurance business. Similarly, the energy industry uses these timestamps for synchronizing power grids.
  • By 2020, the “Internet of things” will comprise a network of more than 50 billion devices. The Galileo system will synchronize these devices with positioning, speed and time data.

However, not all Galileo satellite are in space yet. Currently, 14 satellites provided by OHB are in orbit. Four are being readied for launching at the moment, while a further four are still in Bremen. “Despite this, the day-to-day project work for my team and myself is extremely varied,” says Dr. Wolfgang Paetsch, a member of the Management Board of OHB System AG and responsible for satellite production. The European Space Agency (ESA) has ordered another twelve navigation satellites on behalf of the European Commission in a third round of tenders. “Needless to say, we will be assembling and testing the 34th satellite with the same care as we have applied to all the other satellites before it and are eagerly awaiting its launch and start-up in space,” says Paetsch.

The quartet of satellites is to lift off on board flight VA240 at 19:36:04 Central European Time (18:36:04 UTC) on December 12, 2017. For this purpose, a European Ariane 5 ES launch vehicle has been fitted with four Galileo FOC satellites for the second time. Each of the four satellites has a mass of 715 kg at launch. Not surprisingly, Dr. Paetsch and his team will not be the only ones observing the launch on site: In Bremen, the rest of the team and other interested employees will again be invited to jointly watch the launch. There will be a live dial-up link with colleagues in Guyana, who will describe their impressions and experiences live.

The employees at MT Aerospace – the largest German supplier of components for the Ariane program – will also be observing the launch with bated breaths. The Augsburg-based company specializes in structural components and upper stage tanks and has made a name for itself as a reliable partner. 

*) The FOC (full operational capability) phase of the Galileo program is being funded 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 views expressed here do not necessarily constitute the positions of the European Union and ESA. "Galileo" is a registered trademark owned by the EU and ESA under the HABM application number 002742237.

About OHB SE
Domiciled in Bremen, Germany, OHB SE (ISIN: DE0005936124, Prime Standard) is Germany’s first listed aerospace and technology company. With 35 years of experience in high technology together with its integrated skills in the areas of space technology and telematics, the Group is ideally positioned as one of the leading independent forces in the European space and high-tech industry.
OHB SE currently employs around 2,400 people all around the world.‎

Go back

Contact for media representatives:

Günther Hörbst
Head Corporate Communication

Phone: +49-421-2020-9438

Contact for investors and analysts:

Martina Lilienthal

Phone: +49 421 - 2020-720
Fax: +49 421 - 2020-613