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: Sandblasting winds shift Mars' landscape

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

The wake-up call that sent hearts racing

just added

"But as the minutes ticked by, the relaxed attitude of many of us began to dissolve into apprehension. Our levels of adrenaline and worry began to rise."

US-India to collaborate on Mars exploration

9 hours ago

The United States and India, fresh from sending their own respective spacecraft into Mars' orbit earlier this month, on Tuesday agreed to cooperate on future exploration of the Red Planet.

Swift mission observes mega flares from a mini star

9 hours ago

On April 23, NASA's Swift satellite detected the strongest, hottest, and longest-lasting sequence of stellar flares ever seen from a nearby red dwarf star. The initial blast from this record-setting series ...

Sandblasting winds shift Mars' landscape

14 hours ago

High winds are a near-daily force on the surface of Mars, carving out a landscape of shifting dunes and posing a challenge to exploration, scientists said Tuesday.

PanSTARRS K1, the comet that keeps going

16 hours ago

Thank you K1 PanSTARRS for hanging in there! Some comets crumble and fade away. Others linger a few months and move on. But after looping across the night sky for more than a year, this one is nowhere near ...

User comments : 0