Galileo 9 and 10 in the Zone for This Week’s Launch

September 8, 2015  - By
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Galileos 9 and 10 are lowered onto the Fregat upper stage.

Galileos 9 and 10 are lowered onto the Fregat upper stage.

Galileo 9 and 10 are ready for launch atop a Soyuz rocket at 23:08 local time on Sept. 10 (02:08 GMT and 04:08 CEST on Sept. 11) from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

After being attached to their carrier last week, the pair of fully fueled satellites was carefully lowered onto the Fregat upper stage on Wednesday, Sept. 2, in the 3SB preparation building of the Guiana Space Centre. The following day was devoted to functional checks and inspections, preparing the Galileos plus Fregat to be encapsulated within the halves of their Soyuz rocket fairing, which took place on Sept. 4. This complete “upper composite” was then transported to the launch site and attached vertically to the first three stages of the Soyuz ST-B, the 12th Soyuz to be operated from the spaceport.

As much a spacecraft as a launcher stage, the re-ignitable Fregat will take the Galileos the bulk of the way to their designated medium-altitude orbit once the first three stages achieve low orbit, 9 minutes and  24 seconds after launch. A pair of Fregat firings will be separated by a 3-hour, 13-minute coast up to their target 23,222 km orbital altitude and 57.394° inclination.

Soyuz in Launch Zone. The basic three-stage vehicle for Arianespace’s Sept. 10 Flight VS12 rolled out from its MiK integration building in the Spaceport’s northwestern sector this morning, and was transferred horizontally to the ELS launch zone by a transporter/erector rail car.

The Soyuz rocket is moved to the launch pad and lifted into a vertical position.

The Soyuz rocket is moved to the launch pad and lifted into a vertical position.

The Soyuz was then erected in a vertical position and suspended over the launch pad, held in place by four large support arms. This was followed by the 53-meter-tall mobile gantry’s move-in to protect the launcher, providing a safe environment for installation of the “upper composite” containing the Galileo satellites.

Galileo 9 and 10 are the fifth and sixth Galileo FOC (full operational capability) spacecraft, and have been designated “Alba” and “Oriana” — continuing the naming process after children who won a painting competition organized by the European Commission in 2011. The satellites were built by OHB System, with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. supplying their navigation payloads.

The European Commission is managing and funding Galileo’s FOC phase — during which the network’s complete operational and ground infrastructure is being deployed. The European Space Agency has been delegated as the design and procurement agent on the Commission’s behalf.

Two More this Year. Two further satellites are scheduled for launch by the end of this year. One is under test at ESA’s ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, while the other has already completed its checks and is awaiting transportation to Kourou in the second half of October. In addition, the first satellite of the following batch (Galileo 13) has arrived at ESTEC and is undergoing its thermal-vacuum test. The next will arrive by mid-September.

Follow Arianespace’s launch activity on its website.

ESOC serves as the Operations Control Centre for ESA missions and hosts ESA's Main Control Room (shown here), combined Dedicated Control Rooms for specific missions and the ESTRACK Control Centre, which manages ESA's worldwide ground tracking stations.

ESOC serves as the Operations Control Centre for ESA missions and hosts ESA’s
Main Control Room (shown here), combined Dedicated Control Rooms for specific
missions and the ESTRACK Control Centre, which manages ESA’s worldwide ground
tracking stations.

Mission Control’s Mission. When the next pair of Galileo satellites is boosted into orbit on Friday, a team of mission control experts in Darmstadt, Germany, will spring into action, working around the clock to bring the duo through their critical first days in space. The fiery ascent to space will last just over nine minutes, after which the Fregat upper stage will fire twice to place the satellites into their release orbit.

Separation from Fregat, about 3 hours and 48 minutes into flight, marks the start of the critical early orbits for the team at ESA’s European Space Operation Centre in Darmstadt. Within the combined flight control team from ESA and France’s CNES space agency, each position is paired with its counterpart from the other agency and mixed “CNESOC” shifts will rotate to conduct operations around the clock. The same team conducts all the Galileo early operations alternately from ESOC and from the CNES control centre in Toulouse, France.

“Upon separation, the team will be very focused, and we’ll be watching for a number of critical events on the satellites to happen automatically at the right time and in the right order,” said ESA’s Liviu Stefanov, lead flight director for this phase. “The satellite must switch on, go into a basic flight configuration, deploy its solar wings for power, orient them towards the Sun and acquire Sun-pointing attitude. “As soon as we get communications, we’ll check its health and start sending commands to configure the satellite after completion of the automatic sequence and prepare it for the next major activity: pointing Galileo towards Earth.”

The intense activity will begin the 10-day early operations phase, during which the joint team will work 24 hours/day to oversee steps to prepare the satellites for handover to the Galileo Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, for routine operations, and ESA’s Redu Centre in Belgium, for detailed payload testing.

The logos of the two new satellites in the Galileo constellation are placed on the launcher fairing.

The logos of the two new satellites in the Galileo constellation are placed on the launcher fairing.

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