First Galileo Satellite Arrives in French Guiana for October Launch

September 9, 2011  - By
The first Galileo navigation satellite has arrived in Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, ready to begin preparations for launch on October 20, reports the European Space Agency (ESA). Packed within a protective, air-conditioned container, the satellite known as Flight Model 2 (FM2) landed at Cayenne Rochambeau Airport aboard an Antonov aircraft at 06:45 local time on Wednesday after departing from Thales Alenia Space Italy’s Rome facility where it was built.

A Thales and ESA team stood ready to receive FM2, having flown into French Guiana the previous week, along with all the testing and support equipment. The team loaded the satellite container on a lorry for transport to the Guiana Space Center, where it arrived at 10:00 local time and was moved into the preparation facility. It stayed there overnight for the temperature to settle before it was taken out of its container the following morning.

The FM2 satellite is due to be launched aboard a Soyuz ST-B vehicle on October 20, together with a second Galileo satellite called the Proto-Flight Model (PFM), now being readied for its own flight to French Guiana.

This will be the first launch of Russia’s Soyuz rocket from French Guiana, and the first Soyuz launch from a spaceport outside of Baikonur in Kazakhstan or Plesetsk in Russia. The launch will take place from a new facility 13 km northwest of the Ariane 5 launch site. French Guiana is much closer to the equator, so each launch will benefit from Earth’s spin, increasing the maximum payload into geostationary transfer orbit from 1.7 tonnes to 3 tonnes.

The first four Galileo satellites, built by a consortium led by EADS Astrium Germany, will form the operational nucleus of the full Galileo satnav constellation.

For more information, see the ESA website.

Source: GPS world staff

Galileo IOV satellite in its protective wrap.

Source: GPS world staff

Artist’s concept of Galileo IOVs in orbit.


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