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Two Galileo Satellites Launched for Europe’s Navigation Constellation

March 27, 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 on time today. (Screenshot of ESA/Arianespace livestream feed.)

UPDATE: The two Galileo satellites are confirmed separated from their Soyuz Fregat upper stage into 22,522 altitude orbit right on schedule, according to ESA. Both are in their planned orbits.

Two more Galileo satellites were successfully launched today from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. The seventh and eighth Galileo satellites were lifted aloft on time at 21:46:18 GMT (22:46:18 CET) atop a Soyuz ST-B rocket.

The first three stages of the Soyuz rocket are delivering the Galileo satellites and their Fregat upper stage into low orbit. Then the reignitable Fregat, as much a spacecraft as a rocket stage, will take over the task of hauling the satellites higher through a pair of burns. The satellites will be released in opposite directions by their dispenser once they reach their set 22,522 kilometer-altitude orbit 3 hours, 47 minutes, 57 seconds after launch.

The launch is designated VS11 in Arianespace’s numbering system. Flight VS11’s passengers — built by OHB System, with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. supplying the navigation payloads — are the third and fourth Full Operational Capability (FOC) satellites in the Galileo program, which is creating a European-operated space-based navigation system.

The European Commission is managing and funding Galileo’s FOC phase, during which the network’s complete operational and ground infrastructure will be deployed. The European Space Agency has been delegated as the design and procurement agent on the commission’s behalf.

Watch a replay of the launch here: