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First Galileo satellite begins preparation for launch

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Artist's impression of the four Galileo In-Orbit Validation satellites in their orbits. An ESA photo.

PARIS (BNS): The first Galileo navigation satellite has arrived in Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, ready to begin preparations for launch on 20 October, ESA said.

The satellite is due to be launched aboard a Soyuz ST-B vehicle together with a second Galileo that is now being readied for its own flight to French Guiana. The second pair of satellites will join them in orbits at 23 222 km altitude in 2012.

October’s launch will be the first for Russia’s workhorse Soyuz rocket to lift-off from French Guiana.

The two Soyuz ST-B launchers – the more powerful variant of the two configurations of the upgraded Soyuz-ST launcher and the reignitable Fregat-MT upper stages will guide the satellites into their final orbits.

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.

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

They combine the best atomic clock ever flown for navigation – accurate to one second in three million years – with a powerful transmitter to broadcast precise navigation data worldwide.

Tags:

ESA  Galileo  Satellite  Soyuz  
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