Arianespace’s first Ariane 5 for Galileo takes shape at the Spaceport
The initial Ariane 5 to loft four global positioning satellites for Europe’s Galileo navigation system has begun its build-up at the Spaceport in French Guiana for a milestone Arianespace mission in November.
This launcher is an Ariane 5 ES version that began the integration process earlier in the week, with the cryogenic core stage’s positioning over a mobile launch pad, followed by integration of the vehicle’s two solid propellant boosters.
Designated as Flight VA233 in Arianespace’s numbering system, the mission’s Ariane 5 is being assembled inside the Spaceport’s Launcher Integration Building. Once completed under the direction of production prime contractor Airbus Safran Launchers, it will be moved into the Final Assembly Building where Arianespace takes responsibility for installation of the four Galileo spacecraft.
14 Galileo satellites launched by Arianespace…and counting
Arianespace already has orbited 14 Galileo spacecraft, all lofted in pairs on seven previous missions utilizing the company’s medium-lift Soyuz launcher – with the most recent conducted last May.
Europe’s Galileo navigation system provides highly accurate global positioning services under civilian control. The European Commission funds and manages its Full Operational Capability (FOC) phase, during which the network’s complete operational and ground infrastructure will be deployed; with the European Space Agency designated as the system’s design and procurement agent.
For its maiden Ariane 5 mission at the service of Galileo, Arianespace’s workhorse heavy-lift vehicle will be equipped with a dispenser system that secures the quartet of Galileo satellites in place during ascent, and deploys them in rapid sequence at a targeted release altitude of 23,222 km.
The four spacecraft were built by OHB System in Bremen, Germany, with their navigation payloads provided by Surrey Satellite Technology in the United Kingdom.