Soyuz rocket launches two Galileo satellites

Oct 13, 2012
A Soyuz rocket carrying a pair of Galileo In-Orbit Validation satellites lifts off from Europe's Spaceport in Sinnamary, French Guiana.

A Soyuz rocket launched two Galileo satellites into orbit on Friday, marking a crucial step for Europe's planned navigation system, operator Arianespace announced.

The launch took place at the Kourou space base in French Guiana, at 3:15 pm (1815 GMT).

Three and three quarter hours later, the 700 kilogramme satellites were placed into orbit.

The new satellites add to the first two in the Galileo navigation system, which were hoisted aloft on October 21, 2011.

Together they create a "mini-constellation." Four is the minimum number of satellites 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).

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

Explore further: New commercial rocket descent data may help NASA with future Mars landings

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Final checks for first Soyuz launch from Kourou

Oct 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.

Factfile on Galileo, Europe's rival to GPS

Oct 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.

Recommended for you

Heavy metal frost? A new look at a Venusian mystery

10 hours ago

Venus is hiding something beneath its brilliant shroud of clouds: a first order mystery about the planet that researchers may be a little closer to solving because of a new re-analysis of twenty-year-old ...

Hot explosions on the cool sun

16 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The Sun is more spirited than previously thought. Apart from the solar eruptions, huge bursts of particles and radiation from the outer atmosphere of our star, also the cooler layer right below ...

Europe secures new generation of weather satellites

16 hours ago

Contracts were signed today to build three pairs of MetOp Second Generation satellites, ensuring the continuity of essential information for global weather forecasting and climate monitoring for decades to ...

User comments : 0