The European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA) choose Leonardo to build the hydrogen atomic clocks of Galileo Second Generation, the EU satellite navigation system developed by ESA and European industry. The company has in fact signed a contract with ESA for the direct supply of PHM (Passive Hydrogen Maser) for the new 12 satellites.
Leonardo's PHM is the most accurate atomic clock ever made for space applications, it accumulates an error of one second every three million years, and is one of the crucial elements for Galileo's superiority which boasts an accuracy of about 30 cm on the ground. After working on over 70 watches for the first generation of Galileo, Leonardo will provide two masers for each new satellite. The first 12 units will be delivered in 2023.
The company will also make available its skills for in-orbit support: a highly qualified team will be able to provide assistance and advice to the European Union Agency for the Space Program (EUSPA), Galileo's exploitation manager, in the analysis of the operation of the tools, improving customer support services for European partners.
"We thank the European Commission and ESA for the trust they have renewed in our company, also choosing it for the Second Generation of a fundamental program for Europe. Proud of this success, we are constantly working to develop more and more performing watches, compact and precise, for satellite navigation on our Planet and, one day, on the Moon or Mars " declared Giovanni Fuggetta, Head of the Business Space Area in Leonardo's Electronics Division.
For the construction of the new atomic clocks, produced in the Nerviano plant, Leonardo will increase the production capacity of the area dedicated to their development, expanding it with two shielded chambers, two external thermo-vacuum, an area for the ground storage of the clocks, and one dedicated to the testing and integration of electronic boards, to guarantee the production of two watches every six weeks. The approach is based on "lean manufacturing", ie on the minimization of waste in favor of the efficiency and sustainability of production, in line with the strategic plan "Be Tomorrow - Leonardo 2030", which has among its objectives the development of a industry 4.0 ready to face the challenges of the future, also through the digitization of systems and the use of artificial intelligence.