Soyuz rocket launches two Galileo satellites

October 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: Key flight for Europe's GPS is cleared for launch

Related Stories

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.

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.

Recommended for you

Hubble catches a transformation in the Virgo constellation

December 9, 2016

The constellation of Virgo (The Virgin) is especially rich in galaxies, due in part to the presence of a massive and gravitationally-bound collection of over 1300 galaxies called the Virgo Cluster. One particular member of ...

Scientists sweep stodgy stature from Saturn's C ring

December 9, 2016

As a cosmic dust magnet, Saturn's C ring gives away its youth. Once thought formed in an older, primordial era, the ring may be but a mere babe – less than 100 million years old, according to Cornell-led astronomers in ...

Khatyrka meteorite found to have third quasicrystal

December 9, 2016

(Phys.org)—A small team of researchers from the U.S. and Italy has found evidence of a naturally formed quasicrystal in a sample obtained from the Khatyrka meteorite. In their paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, ...

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.