With the initial satellites of the Galileo constellation working well in orbit, ESA decided to end the mission of its pioneering GIOVE-A navigation satellite. Launched on 28 December 2005, this first experimental satellite performed the vital task of securing the radio frequencies provisionally set aside for Galileo by the International Telecommunications Union. It also flight-tested Galileo atomic clocks and other equipment in space for the very first time and investigated the radiation environment of medium-altitude orbits, never used before by a European mission.
GIOVE-A had been operative much longer than its designed life-span had foreseen. “GIOVE-A had a design life of only 27 months, so to continue operating for 78 months is impressive,” said Valter Alpe, managing GIOVE activities for ESA.