Galileo satellites switched on for launch

Galileo satellites under fairing
11 October 2012

The twin Galileo satellites atop their Soyuz rocket have taken part in a full-scale dress rehearsal for launch. Its completion keeps the satellites on schedule for their planned Friday evening liftoff.

“The satellites are now switched on,” commented Nigel Watts, in charge of ESA’s Galileo In-Orbit Validation satellite procurement.

"If all goes to plan, the satellites will remain turned on for their flight into orbit and for their entire mission lives, until they are sent into a graveyard orbit at the end of their lives, some 12 years from now."

The launch is scheduled for 18:15:00 GMT (20:15:00 CEST) on Friday 12 October.

Wednesday’s dress rehearsal was based around a simulated launch taking place at exactly the same time of day, involving the same teams and communication links to be used during the launch.

So the Galileo satellite team in the Payload Control Room combined with the launcher team in the Soyuz Control Centre close to the launch pad and, on the other side of the Atlantic, the team in the Launch and Early Orbit Phase Control Centre (LOCC) in Toulouse, France, who are responsible for overseeing the satellites after launch.

All these control centres are themselves coordinated and managed from the Jupiter Control Centre in the Guiana Space Centre, which is the master site from where the overall countdown is performed.

Galileo
Four Galileo satellites

These centres are also in communication with the host of infrastructure needed to ensure a smooth launch and satellite deployment and operations.

LOCC, for example, must check the functioning of the Galileo ground segment spaced across the globe.

“Everything must be ‘green’ to authorise the launch,” Nigel added. “That is why it is so important to have a full dress rehearsal two days before the final countdown, helping to ensure success on launch day.”

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