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Watch Ariane 5 Launch Galileo Satellites on Night of 3-4 December

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
December 3, 2021
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A Soyuz-2 launches the CSO-2 defense satellite on Dec. 29, 2020. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (ESA PR) — Europe’s latest Galileo satellites will be launched on the night of 3-4 December. Arianespace has taken the decision to begin fuelling their three-stage Soyuz launcher.

Galileo satellites 27 – 28 are now scheduled to be launched by Soyuz launcher VS26 from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on 4 December at 01:23 CET (3 December at 21:23 local Kourou time). Follow the launch live on ESA Web TV Two from 01:00 CET.

From liftoff to satellite separation into their target medium-Earth orbit will take approximately three hours and 51 minutes. The first three stages of the Soyuz will do their work in the first nine minutes and 24 seconds of the flight.

After this the reignitable Fregat upper stage will haul the satellites the rest of the way up to their 23 525 km altitude orbit, with one burn beginning about 10 minutes after launch and a second taking place three hours and 32 minutes later.

The launch coverage will pause after the first Fregat firing, resuming at around 0500 CET to cover the deployment of the satellites, reception of their first signals and unfurling of solar arrays.

These two satellites will add to the 26 satellites of the Galileo constellation already in orbit and delivering Initial Services around the globe.

This week’s lift-off will be the 11th Galileo launch in 10 years. Two further launches are planned for next year, to allow Galileo to reach Full Operational Capability in its delivery of services, to be followed by the launches of the rest of the Batch 3 satellites which are currently all undergoing final integration at OHB facilities in Bremen and on-ground verification testing at ESA’s ESTEC Test Centre in the Netherlands.

In parallel to Batch 3’s completion of Galileo First Generation deployment, the new Galileo Second Generation satellites, featuring enhanced navigation signals and capabilities, are already in development with their deployment expected to begin by 2024.

About Galileo

Galileo is currently the world’s most precise satellite navigation system, serving more than two billion users around the globe.

The Full Operational Capability phase of the Galileo programme is managed and funded by the European Union. The European Commission, ESA and EUSPA (the EU Agency for the Space Programme) have signed an agreement by which ESA acts as design authority and system development prime on behalf of the Commission and EUSPA as the exploitation and operation manager of Galileo/EGNOS. “Galileo” is registered as a trademark in the database of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (n° 002742237).