The next pair of Galileo satellites, Galileo 5 and 6, has been successfully delivered into orbit today. This launch marks the start of a new phase in the European satellite navigation programme where the full constellation will be deployed with short intervals between launches.
Galileo 5-6 satellites were carried aloft on a Soyuz rocket from the CSG, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana at 12:27 GMT (14:27 CEST, 09:27 local time) on 22 August. All the stages of the Soyuz vehicle performed as planned, with the Fregat upper stage releasing the satellites into their target orbit close to 23 500 km altitude, 3 hours 47 minutes after liftoff.
On completion of the initial checks, run jointly by ESA and the French space agency CNES, the two satellites will be handed over to the Galileo Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, and the Galileo in-orbit Testing facility in Redu, Belgium for testing before they are commissioned for operational service in the autumn.
Following the successful qualification of the system during the In-Orbit Validation (IOV) phase, achieved with four satellites launched in 2011 and 2012, the Galileo satellites are being produced and readied for the launch pad in series.
The deployment of the constellation will now gather pace, with six to eight satellites launched per year using a series of Soyuz and Ariane launches from the CSG, along with finalisation of the remaining elements of the ground network.
The final constellation will consist of 24 satellites expected to be ready in 2017 and complemented by six in orbit spares.
Galileo is Europe’s own global satellite navigation system. It will consist of 30 satellites and their ground infrastructure.
The definition, development and In-Orbit Validation (IOV) phase were carried out by ESA, and co-funded by ESA and the European Commission. This phase has created a mini-constellation of four satellites and a reduced ground segment dedicated to validating the overall concept.
The four satellites launched during the IOV phase form the core of the constellation that will then be extended to reach Full Operational Capability (FOC).
The FOC phase is 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.
Learn more about Galileo at: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Navigation
About the European Space Agency
The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. It 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 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU.
ESA has Cooperation Agreements with eight other Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.
ESA is also working with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.
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.
ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.
Today, it 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.
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