Ariane 5 rocket puts European GPS satellites into orbit (Update)

December 12, 2017

The Ariane 5 rocket blasted off in French Guiana on Tuesday with four more satellites for the Galileo navigation system, schedul
The Ariane 5 rocket blasted off in French Guiana on Tuesday with four more satellites for the Galileo navigation system, scheduled to be operational by 2020
An Ariane 5 rocket put four GPS satellites into orbit on Tuesday for Europe's Galileo navigation project, Arianespace said.

The European space workhorse took off at 1836 GMT and deployed the satellites four hours after launch.

The Galileo programme, when complete, will have 30 satellites in three orbital planes by 2020.

If all goes according to plan the system will be able to pinpoint a location on Earth to within a metre—compared to several metres for the United States' GPS and the Russian GLONASS systems.

The civilian-controlled Galileo system, seen as strategically important to Europe, went live in December last year, providing initial services with a weak signal, having taken 17 years at more than triple the original budget to get there.

"With this sixth successful launch of an Ariane 5 in 2017, marking the second mission of the year for the benefit of the European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA), Arianespace is proud to guarantee Europe reliable and independent access to space," said Stephane Israel, Arianespace's executive chairman.

The satellites launched Tuesday, each one weighing 715 kilogrammes (1,590 pounds), were placed into orbit 23,000 kilometres (14,000 miles) from Earth.

The Galileo programme is funded and owned by the EU.

The European Commission has overall responsibility for the programme, managing and overseeing the implementation of all activities, but the deployment, design and development of the infrastructure is entrusted to the ESA.

The European Commission announced in July that investigators had uncovered the problems behind the failure of atomic clocks onboard satellites already launched as part of the Galileo satnav system.

For months, the ESA had been investigating the reasons behind failing clocks onboard some of the 18 navigation satellites it had already launched for Galileo.

The ESA found after an investigation that its rubidium clocks had a faulty component that could cause a short circuit, according to European sources.

Explore further: Europe's Galileo satnav identifies problems behind failing clocks

Related Stories

New orbiters for Europe's Galileo satnav system

June 22, 2017

The European Space Agency signed a contract with a German-British consortium Thursday to build eight more satellites for its Galileo satnav system, an alternative to America's GPS, the agency said Thursday.

Galileo in place for launch

October 24, 2017

Two more Galileo satellites have reached Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana, joining the first pair of navigation satellites and the Ariane 5 rocket due to haul the quartet to orbit this December.

Recommended for you

Matter waves and quantum splinters

March 25, 2019

Physicists in the United States, Austria and Brazil have shown that shaking ultracold Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) can cause them to either divide into uniform segments or shatter into unpredictable splinters, depending ...

Study suggests trees are crucial to the future of our cities

March 25, 2019

The shade of a single tree can provide welcome relief from the hot summer sun. But when that single tree is part of a small forest, it creates a profound cooling effect. According to a study published today in the Proceedings ...

How tree diversity regulates invading forest pests

March 25, 2019

A national-scale study of U.S. forests found strong relationships between the diversity of native tree species and the number of nonnative pests that pose economic and ecological threats to the nation's forests.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Chattermark
not rated yet Dec 24, 2017
Not intending to sound overmeticulous, but I wonder if the wording in the headline of this article, 'Ariane 5 rocket puts European GPS satellites into orbit' is correct. European GPS? Of course, I understand what you mean, but ...

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.