The Italian astronaut Roberto Vittori confirmed during the course of a link from the International Space Station that the ENEIDE experiment, realised by Alenia Spazio, a Finmeccanica company, is proceeding perfectly.
ENEIDE was the first experiment initiated by Vittori, only four hours after departure. The main objective of ENEIDE - Esperimento di Navigazione per Evento Italiano Dimostrativo per Egnos (Egnos Italian Navigation Demonstration Experiment) is to assess, for the first time aboard a manned space vehicle, the reliability under extreme conditions of the navigation signal provided by the GPS-Egnos satellite system.
All this has been made possible thanks to the use of technology developed by the Laben Division of Alenia Spazio and qualified within the European Space Agency's Egnos programme. The value of the experiment is the fact that ENEIDE will anticipate what will be the operational characteristics of the European Galileo/Egnos system for space, aeronautical and terrestrial navigation with very high safety standard.
The experiment is based on the use of a multi-standard receiver (GPS + Glonass + Egnos), built by Alenia Spazio and of an antenna installed on the Soyuz vehicle. Approximately 4 hours after launch, the astronaut will begin the experiment.
The on board receiver system will provide position and velocity of the vehicle in real time together with data integrity. By a lap-top Vittori will monitor the status of the experiment and the displayed data during approach to the Station.
After the Russian capsule docks at the Space Station, the experiment will continue in orbit during the 10 days of the mission. The signals received by the GPS-Egnos system will be processed to calculate the position and speed of Soyuz within one metre.
At the same time, the data will be stored to be processed after the re-entry of the space vehicle. The ENEIDE experiment may be considered as a precursor for other similar experiments, which may be carried out as soon as the signal from the Galileo satellite is available.
In the meantime, the construction of the new European satellite navigation system is proceeding and the first experimental satellite of the constellation, the Galileo System Test Bed (GSTB), will be launched by a Soyuz vehicle at the end of 2005. The launch of the first 4 satellites and the in orbit validation phase will be completed by the first semester of 2008.
Alenia Spazio is participating in the Galileo programme with the responsibility for system engineering concerning all aspects of validation and certification of the overall system, the production of on board and on ground equipments and the integration of 30 satellites in its Integration Centre in Rome.
As regards industrial activities, in addition to the range of products, Alenia Spazio is also involved with Finmeccanica, through a consortium led by Telespazio, in the design and realisation of the Galileo Test Range (GTR) to develop equipment and services concerning the group of satellites within Regione Lazio.