The initial Galileo Full Operational Capability satellites arrive in French Guiana for Arianespace’s August Soyuz liftoff
Payload preparation activity for Arianespace’s Soyuz Flight VS09 is underway in French Guiana with today’s arrival of the first two Galileo Full Operational Capability satellites, which are planned for a dual-passenger liftoff on the company’s workhorse medium-lift vehicle in the second half of August.
As the initial spacecraft to be launched for the European Galileo global navigation network’s Full Operational Capability (FOC) phase, the satellites were delivered in separate containers to Félix Eboué International Airport near French Guiana’s capital city of Cayenne via a Boeing 747 cargo aircraft that touched down at 2:00 a.m. this morning.
Following unloading, the two Galileo satellites were transferred to the Spaceport for initial processing at the S1A payload preparation facility.
These spacecraft will be the latest launched by Arianespace from French Guiana for this European satellite navigation system, following four Galileo In-Orbit Validation (IOV) spacecraft previously orbited on two Soyuz missions – a pair on Flight VS01 in October 2011 and two more on Flight VS03 in October 2012.
Designated Soyuz Flight VS09 in Arianespace’s numbering system, this mission – the medium-lift vehicle’s ninth liftoff from French Guiana – will join the company’s record 2014 launch manifest, which currently includes four ongoing campaigns: Ariane 5 Flights VA218, VA219 and VA220, along with Soyuz Flight VS08.
The Galileo program is Europe’s initiative for satellite navigation, providing a highly accurate global positioning system under civilian control – consisting of 30 satellites, along with European control centers and a worldwide network of sensor and uplink stations.
The network’s complete operational and ground infrastructure will be deployed during Galileo’s Full Operational Capability phase, which is managed and funded by the European Commission, with the European Space Agency delegated as the design and procurement agent on the Commission’s behalf.