23 May 2011
The European Space Agency, Arianespace and the European Commission announced today that the launch of the first two satellites of Europe's global navigation satellite system is planned to take place on 20 October.
This will be the first of a series of Galileo satellite launches by Arianespace from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.
The announcement follows a detailed review held on 12 May, under the chairmanship of the Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA) and with the participation of Arianespace and industrial prime contractors, which concluded that the space and ground elements will be ready for a launch in October.
The two Galileo satellites will be deployed using a Soyuz launcher. The October launch will mark the inaugural Soyuz flight from its new launch facilities in French Guiana, built in the framework of a programme of the European Space Agency.
Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of ESA, pointed out the significance of this launch: "The October launch will be a perfect example of European and international cooperation. On one side we will have the first operational Galileo satellites in orbit, resulting from the cooperation between the European Union and ESA.
"On the other side, this is the first launch of Soyuz from French Guiana, a programme made possible through the cooperation between ESA and Russia."
"Arianespace is both proud and honoured to be contributing to this innovative project, reflecting the innovative technologies that are constantly being developed in Europe for the benefit of all citizens," said Jean-Yves Le Gall, Chairman and CEO of Arianespace.
"I would like to thank the European Commission and ESA for choosing our launch services, further recognition of our market leadership.
"With this launch, we will also be opening a new chapter in our own history, as we start Soyuz operations from the Guiana Space Centre. More than ever, we will be able to deliver the full range of launch services expected by our customers from around the world."
The Galileo programme is Europe's initiative for a state-of-the-art global satellite navigation system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civil control.
The definition, development and In-Orbit Validation phases were carried out by ESA and co-funded by ESA and the European Community.
The Full Operational Capability phase of the Galileo programme is managed and fully funded by the European Commission. The Commission and ESA have signed a delegation agreement by which ESA acts as design and procurement agent on behalf of the Commission.
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