Successful blastoff of two new Galileo satellites
At 08.48 hours GMT (10.48 hours CEST) on 24 May Galileo satellites 13 and 14 were successfully launched onboard a Soyuz rocket from French Guiana, bringing up to fourteen the number of Galileo navigation satellites now in orbit.
With this launch, and the blastoff of the other four satellites scheduled for next autumn, Europe’s own satellite navigation system GALILEO, developed by the European Commission in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), takes a great stride towards final deployment and full operation by 2020.
GMV has played a key part in the GALILEO program right from the word go. It has supplied several key elements for the system’s ground segment such as OSPF (Orbit & Synchronisation Processing Facility), IPF (Integrity Processing Facility), SPF (Service Product Facility), FDF (Flight Dynamics Facility) and MNE (MDDN Network equipment). GMV is also currently the main contractor for providing Galileo’s essential Timing and Geodetic Validation Facility (TGVF) services; it is co-leading development of the European Union’s GNSS Service Centre (GSC) and is leading the development of Galileo’s commercial service (CS) demonstrator.
This seventh launch in the program met all expectations perfectly: the first three Soyuz stages placed the satellites in low orbit without any problems. The Fregat upper stage then kicked in to take the satellites to their final destination in a medium circular earth orbit.
Three hours and 48 minutes after liftoff the two new satellites were deployed in orbit at an altitude of about 23,500 km. In the next few days an exhaustive orbit honing process will be carried out to position the satellites in their final operational orbit, after which they will undergo a trial phase before joining the up-and-running constellation by the end of the year.
Galileo infrastructure is confidently expected to make a decisive contribution to the satellite navigation services and application market, which the European GNSS Supervisory Authority (GSA) predicts will reach 135 billion euros by 2025.