Galileo’s Two Newest Birds Undergoing Initial Checks

March 30, 2015  - By
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The Galileo launch team celebrates after a successful launch. (Screenshot of ESA/Arianespace live stream of lift-off.)

The Galileo launch team celebrates after a successful launch. (Screenshot of ESA/Arianespace live stream of lift-off.)

The two newest Galileo satellites — dubbed Adam and Anastasia — launched Friday are now being checked out by the European Space Agency (ESA) and France’s CNES space agency from the CNES Toulouse centre.

Following these initial checks, the two satellites will be handed over to the Galileo Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, and the Galileo in-orbit testing facility in Redu, Belgium, for testing before they are commissioned for operational service. This is expected by mid-year.

Screenshot of ESA/Arianespace live stream following lift-off.

Screenshot of ESA/Arianespace live stream following lift-off.

Adam and Anastasia are the third and fourth Full Operational Capability (FOC) spacecraft for Europe’s Galileo global navigation satellite system.

After an initial powered phase of Soyuz’ three lower stages, the launch included two burns of the Fregat upper stage — separated by a three-hour-plus ballistic phase — to place the two 700-kg.-class satellites at their targeted deployment point, according to launch contractor Arianespace. Total payload lift performance for the flight was estimated at 1,597 kg. on a mission to a circular medium-Earth orbit.

During post-launch comments from the Spaceport, Arianespace Chairman and CEO Stéphane Israël thanked and congratulated everyone involved with the Soyuz mission — designated VS11 in the company’s numbering system — but added that there is still much work to be done for the Galileo program moving forward.

He said there are six more Galileo launches to come following tonight’s success: three missions on Soyuz with six additional FOC satellites, and three launches on Ariane 5, with 12 more units.

Didier Faivre-ESA

Screenshot of ESA/Arianespace live stream following lift-off.

“The satellites are doing fine and are in good hands, managed by the Toulouse CNES [French space agency] operational center,” added Didier Faivre, director of Navigation Programs for ESA. “Let’s rejoice with this very good news. We will be back as soon as possible to continue deploying our satellites.”

The on-target Soyuz launch of Adam and Anastasia followed by one day the 35th anniversary of Arianespace’s creation in 1980. Adam and Anastasia were built by OHB System, with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. supplying their navigation payloads.

Galileo’s FOC phase — during which the network’s complete operational and ground infrastructure will be deployed — is being managed and funded by the European Commission, with ESA delegated as the design and procurement agent on the commission’s behalf.

 

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