Clear-Com Blasts Off at the CNES Toulouse Space Centre

November 29, 2011

Clear-Com®, a global leader in critical voice communication systems, is pleased to announce that its Eclipse Digital Matrix Intercom Systems and V-Series control panels were an integral part of the recent launch by CNES (Centre National d'Études Spatiales) of the first two satellites of the European Union and European Space Agency’s (ESA) Galileo project. CNES staff members coordinated the launch, which took place 21 October, 2011, from the CNES Toulouse Space Centre in France, with scientists at the actual launch site, located in Kourou, French Guiana. With initial service projected to begin in 2014, Galileo will provide a high-precision positioning system, similar to the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS), specifically for European nations.

The launch was extremely time-sensitive — any lapses in communication could have lead to a critical delay. Designed for reliability and superb clarity, a Clear-Com Eclipse-Omega system frame and 45 V-Series panels delivered high quality audio for flawless communications during the critical phases of the operation. Scientists at two control rooms in the Toulouse team declared the official launch of both satellites from Kourou as part of the In-Orbit Validation phase of the Galileo project. The Eclipse-Omega and V-Series panels in Toulouse were linked over standard telephony to Kourou, enabling clear communication between the two teams. With nearly 300 V-Series panels planned for installation throughout the Toulouse Space Centre, every person will soon be able to communicate within and between each department.

“The CNES wished to offer users a reliable, effective and revolutionary solution for operational communications between different control centres for projects such as the Galileo Satellites launch,” says Jean-Yves Buet, Chief of Service for Operational Infrastructure at CNES. “We chose Clear-Com intercom systems for the products’ compatibility with our existing wired infrastructure.  Also important was how the system addressed the growing needs of new and existing users.”

Clear-Com’s French distributor, Audiopole, provided the Clear-Com equipment for this initial phase of the upgrade and will supply, install and maintain the entire Clear-Com system at CNES. The installation, planned for completion in 2015, will include four Eclipse-Omega matrices, about 300 V-Series panels and 50 Clear-Com Concert™ Intercom-Over-IP software client licenses to assist with the implementation of several important space program initiatives. These include the coordination of vehicle and scientist deployment to the International Space Station. The four matrices, connected together with an optical fibre ring, are installed in a central location, which will allow the V-Series panels to be connected to the various control rooms of the Toulouse Centre.

“We are honoured that the CNES chose Clear-Com for such an important project,” says Matt Danilowicz, President of Clear-Com. “Galileo will surely change the face of global positioning for the European Union.  We look forward to providing many years of reliable communications for all important CNES activities now and into the future.”

While an integral part of recent and future Galileo launches, CNES will not maintain the system’s satellites. When in full operation, Galileo will be controlled by two ground centres, in Munich, Germany and Fucino, Italy. Initial service is expected around 2014 with full operation projected for 2019. Using a larger constellation and higher orbit than the current GPS system, the new system will provide better coverage and positioning accuracy (up to 1 m versus 20 m). With a highly inclined orbit at an altitude of 23,222 km, the system will prove to be very useful in urban settings and across a wider range of latitudes. The first two Galileo satellites bear the names of eleven-year-old Thijs from Belgium and nine-year-old Natalia from Bulgaria, both of whom were the first winners of a children’s drawing competition initiated by the European Commission.