Key flight for Europe's GPS is cleared for launch

October 9, 2012
A Soyuz rocket lifts off in 2011 from Europe's space base in Sinnamary, 12 kms from Kourou, French Guiana, carrying the first two satellites in the Galileo geopositioning system. The launch of two Galileo satellites, marking a crucial step in Europe's planned navigation system, has been cleared for Friday, the European Space Agency said on Tuesday.

The launch of two Galileo satellites, marking a crucial step in Europe's planned navigation system, has been cleared for Friday, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Tuesday.

A Fregat-MT containing the two satellites has been moved to an assembly building at the Kourou space base in , to be mated to a three-stage ST-B rocket, ESA said.

"The launch is scheduled for 1815 GMT" on Friday, it said in a press release.

If all goes well, the two satellites will add to the first two in the Galileo navigation system, which were hoisted aloft on October 21, 2011.

"(They) will all together make a mini-constellation of four satellites. This would allow us to validate the full system," said Javier Benedicto, ESA's Galileo project manager.

Four is the minimum needed to gain a navigational fix on the ground, using signals from the satellite to get a position for latitude, longitude, altitude and a time reference.

Galileo will ultimately consist of 30 satellites, six more than the US (GPS).

By 2015, 18 satellites should be in place, which is sufficient for launching services to the public, followed by the rest in 2020, according to ESA.

The system claims it will be accurate to within a metre (3.25 feet). The GPS, which became operational in 1995 and is being upgraded, is currently accurate to between three and eight metres (10 and 26 feet).

In May, the European Commission said the cost by 2015 would be five billion euros ($6.45 billion).

Friday's launch will be the third under a contract that transferred the Soviet-Russian workhorse of space to South America.

As a medium-sized launcher, Soyuz complements Europe's heavyweight and lightweight Vega rockets.

Explore further: Two years in space for Galileo satellite

Related Stories

Two years in space for Galileo satellite

December 19, 2007

On 28 December, it will be two years since GIOVE-A - the first Galileo satellite - was launched by a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur, in Kazakhstan. This satellite demonstrates the progress Europe has made in setting up its own ...

Galileo's Soyuz launchers arrive at French Guiana

June 22, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The two Soyuz launchers that will fly the first four satellites of Europe’s Galileo navigation system into orbit have arrived at Kourou harbour in French Guiana, completing a journey that took them halfway ...

Factfile on Galileo, Europe's rival to GPS

October 16, 2011

Following is a snapshot of Europe's Galileo space-based navigation system, the first satellites of which are scheduled to be launched on Thursday from Kourou, French Guiana.

Final checks for first Soyuz launch from Kourou

October 20, 2011

Launch directors on Thursday were running through the last checks for the maiden liftoff of Soyuz, the legendary Soviet-Russian rocket, from Europe's base in French Guiana.

Recommended for you

New Horizons team selects potential Kuiper Belt flyby target

August 29, 2015

NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits ...

Dawn spacecraft sends sharper scenes from Ceres

August 25, 2015

The closest-yet views of Ceres, delivered by NASA's Dawn spacecraft, show the small world's features in unprecedented detail, including Ceres' tall, conical mountain; crater formation features and narrow, braided fractures.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.