PARIS — Orolia Group’s Spectratime division of Switzerland said June 14 it will build atomic clocks for eight European Galileo positioning, navigation and timing satellites under a contract valued at 14 million euros ($18 million) expected to be signed by midsummer.

Neuchatel-based Spectratime said the immediate work is limited to an authorization to proceed but that the final contract will be completed and signed in a few weeks.

Spectratime already is building the atomic clock suites for 14 other Galileo satellites under a 20 million-euro contract signed in mid-2011. Each satellite carries two rubidium clocks and one passive hydrogen maser.

These 22 satellites are under construction by a team led by OHB AG of Bremen, Germany. Spectratime said its partners in the contract are Astrium and Selex Galileo. The satellites are scheduled to be launched starting in early 2013 from Europe’s Guiana Space Center in French Guiana.

Spectratime built similar atomic clocks for the four Galileo in-orbit validation satellites manufactured by a consortium led by Astrium Satellites and Thales Alenia Space. The first two of these four demonstration satellites have been launched, with the second pair scheduled for launch late this year.

Spectratime is one of several equipment providers that, by virtue of their market position, were able to preserve a role in the entire Galileo constellation despite the fact that the Astrium-Thales Alenia Space team lost to OHB for the follow-on spacecraft.

Spectratime also has provided atomic clocks, of a less-sophisticated design, for China’s Beidou-Compass constellation of navigation satellites.


Peter B. de Selding was the Paris bureau chief for SpaceNews.