The European Commission has announced the launch date of the next pair of ESA-procured Galileo satellites. These will launch together on a Soyuz from French Guiana on 28 September 2012, joining the two Galileo satellites already in orbit.
Antonio Tajani, Vice President of the European Commission, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship, announced the launch on 2 May in Brussels, together with Jean Yves Le Gall, Chairman and CEO of Arianespace, in the presence of industrial leaders involved in the programme, and in agreement with ESA’s Director of the Galileo Programme and Navigation-related Activities Didier Faivre.
The new launch will take place within a year of the flight of the first two Galileo In-Orbit Validation satellites, which reached orbit on 21 October 2011.
Four navigation satellites represent the minimum needed for satellite navigation - to measure latitude, longitude and altitude while checking ranging accuracy - so these four Galileo IOV satellites can be used to assess the performance of Galileo’s world-spanning ground system which serves to maintain the precision of the Galileo system.
In addition European industry should be able to realistically test their own prototype Galileo-based receivers and services against actual satellite signals.
Galileo is an initiative of the European Commission and ESA to provide Europe with an independent global satnav system. The Commission and ESA have signed a delegation agreement by which ESA acts as design and procurement agent on behalf of the Commission.
The full Galileo system will consist of 30 satellites in orbit overseen by control centres located in Europe and a global network of sensor stations and uplink stations.