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N° 19–2018: New satellite launch extends Galileo’s global reach

25 July 2018

Four more Galileo satellites were launched today by an Ariane 5. Their arrival in orbit brings the Galileo constellation to 26 satellites, extending the global coverage of the constellation. Ariane 5 flight VA244, operated by Arianespace under contract to ESA, lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 11:25 GMT (13:25 CEST, 08:25 local time), carrying Galileo satellites 23–26. The first pair of 715 kg satellites was released almost 3 hours 36 minutes after liftoff, while the second pair separated 20 minutes later.

They were released into their target 22 922 km-altitude orbit by the dispenser atop the Ariane 5 upper stage. In the coming days, this quartet will be steered into their final working orbits by the  French space agency CNES, under contract to the Galileo operator SpaceOpal for the European Global Navigation Satellite System Agency (GSA). There, they will begin around six months of tests by SpaceOpal to verify their operational readiness so they can join the working Galileo constellation.

“Galileo is ESA’s largest ever satellite constellation, built up to its present size in rapid time, with 22 Full Operational Capabilitysatellites added within just the last four years,” remarked Jan Wörner, ESA’s Director General.

“We must thank our industrial partners OHB (DE) and SSTL (GB) for the satellites, as well as Thales Alenia Space (FR/IT) and Airbus Defence and Space (GB/FR) for the ground segment and all their subcontractors throughout Europe for their continued support to the programme. Together with ESA, the entire industrial team has worked hard for the point at which we now are and this cooperation have proven to be very successful, as we can show in the excellent performance of Galileo.”

Paul Verhoef, ESA’s Director of Navigation, added, “Galileo has been providing Initial Services on a worldwide basis since 15 December 2016, and today has more than 100 million users, and rapidly increasing. Today’s satellites will increase the global coverage of Galileo with a performance that is widely recognised as excellent.

“This is the end of the current phase of Galileo deployment, but our pace is not slacking. A further 12 Galileo ‘Batch 3’ satellites are in preparation as in-orbit spares and as replacements for the oldest Galileo satellites, first launched in 2011 in order to keep the system working seamlessly into the future.

“Then a new generation of Galileos are planned for the middle of the next decade, offering improved performance and added features, maintaining Galileo as a permanent feature of the global GNSS landscape.”

 

About Galileo

Galileo is Europe’s civil global satellite navigation system. Once complete, the system will consist of 24 operational satellites plus orbital spares, and the ground infrastructure for the provision of positioning, navigation and timing services. But the system is already available to users with recent receivers which combine the Galileo and GPS navigation messages for a more precise positioning.

The Galileo programme is funded and owned by the EU. The European Commission has the overall responsibility for the programme, managing and overseeing the implementation of all programme activities.

Galileo’s deployment, the design and development of the new generation of systems and the technical development of infrastructure are entrusted to ESA. The definition, development and in-orbit validation phases were carried out by ESA, and co‑funded by ESA and the European Commission.

GSA is ensuring the uptake and security of Galileo. Galileo operations and provision of services were entrusted to the GSA in July 2017.

Learn more about Galileo at:

http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Navigation

 

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Slovenia is an Associate Member.

ESA has established formal cooperation with six Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes as well as with Eumetsat for the development of meteorological missions.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space. ESA also has a strong applications programme developing services in Earth observation, navigation and telecommunications.

Learn more about ESA at www.esa.int

 

For further information, please contact:

ESA Media Relations Office

Email: media@esa.int

Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99


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