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Galileo satellites given green light for launch

November 30, 2021  - By

The Launch Readiness Review on Nov. 26 confirmed that the satellites, the supporting ground installations, and the early operations facilities and teams are ready for lift-off on the early hours of Thursday morning, central European time.


UPDATE: Arianespace has postponed today’s launch and is now targeting launch on Friday (Dec. 3). Liftoff is set for Dec. 3 at 7:23 p.m. EST (0023 GMT).


Galileo satellites 27 and 28 are scheduled to be launched by a Soyuz launcher from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on Dec. 2 at 01:31 CET (Dec. 1 at 21:31:27 local Kourou time).

These satellites are the first of Batch 3, comprising 12 additional first-generation Galileo satellites commissioned in 2017 to bring the constellation to full operational capability. They will be used to further expand the constellation up to 38 satellites and act as backups and spares for satellites that reach their end-of-life.

Follow the launch live on ESA Web TV Two starting at 0104 CET.

“Friday’s Launch Readiness Review confirmed that the first two satellites in this final batch of 12 Galileo first-generation satellites, are good to go, provided no external circumstances come up between now and the night of 1-2 December,” said Bastiaan Willemse, ESA’s Galileo Satellite manager, from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. “Meanwhile the preparation for the launch campaign of the next two satellites has already started.”

The Launch Readiness Review is an ESA-led review with participation of the satellite manufacturer OHB, the launch service provider Arianespace, the Galileo operator SpaceOpal, the EU Space Programme Agency (EUSPA) and the European Commission, as well as the programme’s Security Accreditation Board.

Friday’s review was the last before the Arianespace-led RAL (Revue d’Aptitude de Lancement) takes place next week when the latest status of the launcher, the launch facilities and site, the global launch tracking facilities, the satellites and supporting ground infrastructure will be reviewed, most likely resulting in approval for launch countdown.

The satellites arrived in French Guiana in early October, kicking off a busy launch campaign, including initial dispenser fit checks and the filling with the hydrazine fuel that will be used to maneuver them during their 12 years of working life.

Galileos 27-28 seen atop their gold-wrapped Fregat upper stage within their Soyuz launcher fairing. (Photo: ESA)

Galileos 27-28 seen atop their gold-wrapped Fregat upper stage within their Soyuz launcher fairing. (Photo: ESA)

The two satellites will add to the 26 satellites of the Galileo constellation already in orbit and delivering Initial Services around the globe.

This week’s lift-off will be the 11th Galileo launch in 10 years. Two further launches are planned for next year, to allow Galileo to reach Full Operational Capability in its delivery of services, to be followed by the launches of the rest of the Batch 3 satellites — all undergoing final integration at OHB facilities in Bremen and on-ground verification testing at ESA’s ESTEC Test Centre in the Netherlands.

In parallel to Batch 3’s completion of Galileo First Generation deployment, the new Galileo Second Generation satellites, featuring enhanced navigation signals and capabilities, are already in development with their deployment expected to begin by 2024.

The combined upper composite for the Galileo launch being transported to the other three stages of the Soyuz at the launch site. (Photo: ESA)


The combined upper composite for the Galileo launch being transported to the other three stages of the Soyuz at the launch site. (Photo: ESA)

Galileos 27 and 28 are secured to the dispenser that holds them in place during launch. (Photo: ESA)

Galileos 27 and 28 are secured to the dispenser that holds them in place during launch. (Photo: ESA)

The two Galileo satellites attached to the dispenser on which they will ride to orbit. (Photo: ESA)

The two Galileo satellites attached to the dispenser on which they will ride to orbit. (Photo: ESA)

About the Author:


Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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