Satellites and rocket readied for July 25 Galileo launch

June 18, 2018  - By

Ariane 5’s cryogenic main stage is moved into position over the mobile launch table inside the Spaceport’s Launcher Integration Building. (Photo: Arianespace)

Four more Galileo satellites will be launched on a customized Ariane 5 on July 25.

The next Arianespace rocket to orbit Galileo satellites has begun taking shape at the spaceport in French Guiana, reported Arianespace. Build-up of the heavy-lift vehicle is now underway inside the spaceport’s Launcher Integration Building.

Following the established assembly flow, the rocket build-up began with this week’s positioning of the launch vehicle’s central core cryogenic stage over one of two mobile launch tables used for Ariane 5.

Ariane 5’s two solid propellant boosters are rolled out. (Photos: Arianespace)

It was followed by integration of the two large solid propellant boosters — installed directly on the launch table and mated to the core stage — clearing the way for placement of the upper stage, topped off with the vehicle equipment bay.

Once the Ariane 5’s basic build-up is completed under the direction of production prime contractor ArianeGroup, it will be moved to the spaceport’s Final Assembly Building for installation of its four Galileo FOC (Full Operational Capability) satellite passengers, which are undergoing their own pre-flight preparations at the spaceport.

The Ariane 5 will deploy its satellite passengers at a targeted orbital altitude of 23,222 kilometers in circular medium Earth orbit. The launch is designated Flight VA244 by Arianespace.

Galileo satellites arrive

In early June, Galileo satellites 25 and 26 landed at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, joining their two predecessors, satellites 23 and 24, according to the European Space Agency (ESA).

One of the two Galileo satellites 25 and 26 is unloaded from a Boeing 747 cargo jet at Cayenne – Félix Eboué Airport in French Guiana on June 1. The satellites travel inside protective air-conditioned containers. (Photo: ESA)

The pair left Luxembourg Airport on a Boeing 747 cargo jet on the morning of June 1, arriving at Cayenne – Félix Eboué Airport in French Guiana that evening.

After they were off-loaded, they were driven by truck to the cleanroom environment of the S1A payload preparation facility at Europe’s Spaceport, still in their protective air-conditioned containers. In the cleanroom, they joined Galileo satellites 23 and 24, which arrived last month.

The cryogenic main stage of the Ariane 5, known as the EPC — from its French title Etage Principal Cryogénique — arrived by sea at French Guiana’s Port Pariacabo on May 30.

A further 12 Galileo “Batch 3” satellites were ordered in 2017, supplementing the 26 built so far to provide further in-orbit spares and replacements for the oldest Galileo satellites, first launched in 2011.

A steady stream of orbital spares, ready to replace satellites reaching the end of their operational lives, is essential to ensure Galileo continues operating seamlessly, according to ESA.

Looking further ahead, with the aim of keeping Galileo services as a permanent part of the European and global landscape, new satellites will be required by the middle of the next decade, offering improved performance and added features.