First member of Galileo satellite family to be launched on 26 December - Follow the launch live

GIOVE-A will be launched on 26 December
13 December 2005

ESA PR 59-2005. Galileo, Europe's global navigation satellite system, will start becoming concrete reality the day after Christmas with the launch of Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element GIOVE-A on top of a Soyuz-Fregat rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The complete constellation of 30 satellites, specifically designed for civil use, will eventually offer European citizens and institutional users state-of-the-art global positioning and timing services with outstanding accuracy, availability, integrity and a guaranteed signal. Galileo is a joint initiative being taken by the European Commission and ESA.

The Soyuz rocket, operated by Starsem, the Euro-Russian company in charge of its marketing, is scheduled to lift off at 06:19 CET. The satellite will be released from the Fregat upper stage at 10:01 following a long ballistic cruise to reach its operational orbit. Only at 13:51 will ground controllers in Guildford (UK) at Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd – the company in charge of building and operating GIOVE-A - have completed their job and placed the satellite in its operational Medium Earth Orbit slot at an altitude of 23,222 km.

Media representatives wishing to follow the broadcast of the launch live from Baikonur are invited to come to ESA's Paris Headquarters, where specialists will be available for interviews. The programme and the reply form for accreditation for the event are attached. Please fax back the form by Tuesday 20 December at the latest. The launch will also be broadcast live on ESA-TV. For further information and details of pre-event footage and the video broadcast, see: http://television.esa.int

Video on demand will be available on the ESA website soon after the launch has taken place, at: http://www.esa.int/galileolaunch

For further information, please contact:

Franco Bonacina or Anne-Marie Remondin
ESA Media Relations Division
Communication Department
ESA, Paris
Tel : + 33(0)1.53.69.7155
Fax : +33(0)1.53.69.7690

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