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New satellite launch extends Galileo’s global reach

on 26 July 2018

Four more Galileo satellites were launched by an Ariane 5 on 25 July. Their arrival in orbit brings the Galileo constellation to 26 satellites, extending the global coverage of the constellation.

Ariane 5 flight VA244, operated by Arianespace under contract to ESA, lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 11:25 GMT (13:25 CEST, 14:25 Romania local time, 08:25 French Guyana local time), carrying Galileo satellites 23–26. The first pair of 715 kg satellites was released almost 3 hours 36 minutes after liftoff, while the second pair separated 20 minutes later.

The satellites were released into their target orbit, at 22 922 km-altitude. In the coming days, this quartet will be steered into their final working orbits by the French space agency CNES, under contract to the Galileo operator SpaceOpal for the European Global Navigation Satellite System Agency (GSA). There, they will begin around six months of tests by SpaceOpal to verify their operational readiness so they can join the working Galileo constellation.

“Galileo is ESA’s largest ever satellite constellation, built up to its present size in rapid time, with 22 Full Operational Capability satellites added within just the last four years,” remarked Jan Wörner, ESA’s Director General.

Paul Verhoef, ESA’s Director of Navigation, added, “Galileo has been providing Initial Services on a worldwide basis since 15 December 2016, and today has more than 100 million users, and rapidly increasing. Today’s satellites will increase the global coverage of Galileo with a performance that is widely recognised as excellent."

“This is the end of the current phase of Galileo deployment, but our pace is not slacking. A further 12 Galileo ‘Batch 3’ satellites are in preparation as in-orbit spares and as replacements for the oldest Galileo satellites, first launched in 2011, in order to keep the system working seamlessly into the future.

“Then a new generation of Galileos are planned for the middle of the next decade, offering improved performance and added features, maintaining Galileo as a permanent feature of the global GNSS landscape.”

About Galileo
Galileo is Europe’s civil global satellite navigation system. Once complete, the system will consist of 24 operational satellites plus orbital spares, and the ground infrastructure for the provision of positioning, navigation and timing services. The system is already available to users.


Image credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace/Optique Video du CSG