Getting ready for launch: Payload integration is underway for Soyuz’ Galileo passengers
The two Galileo navigation satellites for Arianespace’s upcoming medium-lift flight have “joined up” with their payload dispenser system – a key step in the preparations for this March 27 mission.
During activity at the Spaceport’s S5A preparation hall in French Guiana, the Galileo Full Operational Capability (FOC) spacecraft were mounted on their two-sided dispenser system, readying them for integration on Soyuz’ Fregat upper stage and encapsulation in the payload fairing. These steps will create the “upper composite,” which is installed atop Soyuz once the workhorse vehicle is moved to its Spaceport launch zone.
One of Soyuz’ Galileo navigation satellite passengers is already installed on the payload dispenser system (seen in the background), as the second spacecraft is moved into position for its integration.
Designated Soyuz Flight VS11 in Arianespace’s numbering system, Soyuz’ 11th launch from the Spaceport in French Guiana is planned for an evening liftoff on March 27 at precisely 6:46:18 p.m. local time.
On this mission, Arianespace’s medium-lift launcher will carry out a nearly 3-hour, 48-minute mission to place its Galileo passengers into a targeted circular orbit at an altitude of 23,522 km., inclined 55.04 degrees to the equator.
Soyuz Flight VS11’s passengers are the latest FOC satellites in the Galileo program, which will create a European-operated space-based navigation system. Providing a highly accurate global positioning system under civilian control, the complete Galileo constellation will consist of 30 satellites in total, along with European control centers and a worldwide network of sensor and uplink stations.
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.
The FOC spacecraft to be lofted on Soyuz Flight VS11 were built by OHB System in Bremen, Germany, with their navigation payloads supplied by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. in Guildford, UK.