17 December 2015The pace of deploying Europe’s own satellite navigation system continued to increase with today’s launch of the latest pair of Galileo satellites, doubling the number of satellites in space within nine months.
Galileo 11 and 12 lifted off together at 11:51 GMT (12:51 CET, 08:51 local time) atop a Soyuz rocket from French Guiana.
This sixth Galileo launch was a textbook operation: all Soyuz stages performed as planned, culminating in the Fregat upper stage deploying the twin satellites into orbit close to 23 500 km altitude, around 3 hours and 48 minutes after liftoff.
“With today’s launch, Europe has doubled the number of its Galileo satellites in orbit in just nine months,” commented Jan Woerner, Director General of ESA.
“Along with the ground stations put in place around the globe, this brings Galileo’s completion within reach. Initial Galileo services are scheduled to begin within next year, which proves the importance of this wise investment.”
“The excellent performance of these satellites, as measured on the ground, allows Europe to join the club of the worldwide providers of satellite navigation services,” noted Didier Faivre, ESA’s Director of Galileo and Navigation-related Activities.
“Production, testing and launch of the remaining satellites are now proceeding on a steady basis according to plan.
“Then, after the summer break in 2016, the tempo of deployment will increase further with the first of three customised Ariane 5 launchers that will carry four rather than two satellites into orbit each time.”
This month will see the 10th anniversary of the launch of Europe’s very first navigation satellite: GIOVE-A, on 28 December 2005. It secured the frequencies set aside for Galileo, gathered data on the medium-altitude orbit environment and flight-tested hardware for the working system.
Galileo is the EU’s own global satellite navigation system, consisting of 30 satellites and their ground infrastructure.
The definition, development and In-Orbit Validation phases were carried out by ESA, and co-funded by ESA and the European Commission. This phase created a miniconstellation of four satellites and a reduced ground segment set-up to validate the overall concept.
The Full Operational Capability phase is fully funded by the European Commission. The Commission and ESA have signed a delegation agreement by which ESA acts as design and procurement agent on behalf of the Commission.
Learn more about Galileo at:
About the European Space Agency
The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.
ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.
ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 20 are Member States of the EU.
ESA has established formal cooperation with seven other Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.
By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.
ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.
Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.
Learn more about ESA at www.esa.int