Ariane 5 to Launch Galileo Constellation

February 7, 2012  - By
Image: GPS World

Jean-Yves Le Gall, chairman and CEO of Arianespace, and Didier Faivre, director of the Galileo Program and Navigation-related Activities at the European Space Agency (ESA), signed an agreement February 2 in London to launch satellites in Europe’s Galileo satellite positioning system by Ariane 5 launchers.

This agreement provides for the possibility of using Ariane 5 launchers in 2014 and 2015 to complete the deployment of the Galileo constellation. Arianespace will have launched the 26 satellites in this constellation using a combination of Soyuz launch vehicles (two satellites per launch), and Ariane 5 launchers (four satellites per launch). The contract for adapting the Ariane 5 launcher to enable simultaneous launch of four Galileo satellites was also signed today by the European Space Agency and EADS-Astrium.

The Galileo satellite launch contract is managed by ESA on behalf of the European Commission. The contract signing ceremony was also attended by David Willets, U.K. Minister of State for Universities and Science, and Antonio Tajani, Vice President of the European Commission.

These satellites, built by the team of OHB Technology of Germany and Surrey Satellite Technology, Ltd. of the United Kingdom, will be placed in a circular orbit at an altitude of 23,000 kilometers by Soyuz and Ariane 5 launchers operating from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana.

Arianespace and its subsidiary Starsem have already orbited the Giove-A and Giove-B in-orbit validation satellites, thus securing the frequencies allocated to the Galileo constellation. On October 21, 2011, Arianespace launched the first two satellites in the constellation — built by Astrium during the IOV (In Orbit Validation) phase — using a Soyuz launcher at the Guiana Space Center.

With both Ariane 5 and Soyuz, Arianespace offers the best solution for launching the entire Galileo constellation, thus guaranteeing independent access to space for Europe, Arianspace said.

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