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New Galileo Pair Head to Working Orbit

April 10, 2015  - By
Galileo 7 and 8 were launched into orbit on time today. (Screenshot of  ESA/Arianespace livestream feed.)

Galileo 7 and 8 were launched into orbit March 27. (Screenshot of ESA/Arianespace livestream feed.)

Europe’s two newest Galileo satellites — launched March 27 — have carried out maneuvers to take them down to their working positions in orbit. Both satellites are performing well. Galileo 7 and 8 were launched into a circular 23,522 km altitude orbit about 300 km above their final orbit.

Using their onboard thrusters, the two Galileo satellites have performed all their Launch and Early Operations Phase (LEOP) maneuvers, reports the European Space Agency (ESA). The maneuvers began as soon as the automatic initialization sequence was completed.

A joint team of ESA and CNES personnel oversaw the LEOP process from the French space agency CNES in Toulouse. On March 28, the team ensured that the two satellites’ solar arrays deployed correctly and oversaw the gradual switch-on of the satellites systems.

Once the two satellites passed inspection, control was passed to Galileo’s Oberpfaffenhofen-based Control Centre (run by SpaceOpal, a joint venture by DLR Gesellschaft für Raumfahrtanwendungen and Telespazio) to prepare for their final In-Orbit Testing (IOT) in two phases: commissioning for the host satellite platforms, and then their navigation and search and rescue payloads. Platform commissioning is now taking place.

The Galileo satellites’ navigation and the search and rescue payloads will be switched on in few weeks and will begin detailed in-orbit testing, overseen from ESA’s Redu centre in Belgium, which is equipped with a 20-meter antenna for high-resolution acquisition of the navigation signals.

The hosting of Galileo’s LEOP team alternates between CNES in Toulouse and ESA’s ESOC control centre in Darmstadt, Germany. Early operation of the next pair of Galileo satellites will be masterminded from ESOC — launch is scheduled for September.