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Soyuz Dec 17, 2015

Arianespace’s latest Galileo mission a success: Soyuz launcher orbits two more satellites in the constellation

Arianespace has successfully launched the 11th and 12th satellites in the Galileo constellation for the European Commission, under a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA).

12 successful launches in 2015, a new record for the Arianespace family

The company’s 12th launch of the year, and the 13th Soyuz launch from the Guiana Space Center (CSG), Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, took place on December 17 at 8:51 am local time. It was attended by Elżbieta Bieńkowska, the European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.

With 12 Galileo satellites now in orbit, half launched in 2015, Arianespace is very proud of delivering this decisive solution to ensure the sovereignty of European governments and improve citizens’ lives: a global, independent satellite navigation, positioning and timing system. 

Galileo, an emblematic European program 

Europe initiated the Galileo program to develop a new global navigation satellite system (GNSS). Under civilian control, it will offer a guaranteed, high-precision positioning service. Galileo is the first joint infrastructure produced and financed by the European Union, which will be the system owner. It features the latest innovative technologies developed in Europe to benefit all citizens.

Responsible for the Galileo program, the European Commission’s DG GROWTH has assigned its definition and procurement to the Navigation directorate of the European Space Agency.

Galileo program milestones:

  • 2005 & 2008: GIOVE-A and GIOVE-B experimental satellites launched from Baikonur by Soyuz (via Starsem).
  • Oct. 2011: first Galileo IOV (In Orbit Validation) satellites, 1 and 2, launched on first Soyuz mission.
  • Oct. 2012: Soyuz launch of Galileo IOV 3&4.
  • Aug. 2014: first two Galileo FOC (Full Operational Capacity) satellites, 5 and 6, launched by Soyuz. Despite injection into non-compliant orbit, ESA’s staff were able to verify operability, then reposition the satellites so they could contribute to the constellation.
  • March 2015: Galileo FOC satellites 7 and 8 launched by Soyuz.
  • Sept. 2015: Galileo FOC satellites 9 and 10 launched by Soyuz.

 Deployment accelerates in 2015 

Arianespace, a partner in the Galileo program since the outset, accelerated the pace of deployment this year. It successfully orbited six Galileo satellites in 2015, one-fifth of the total constellation. With 12 satellites now in orbit, the Galileo system could start delivering its services by the end of 2016.

Following this launch, Arianespace will orbit another 14 satellites in the FOC (Full Operational Capacity) series.

The next mission is slated for the second half of 2016, with an Ariane 5 ES launcher used to deploy four satellites in a single launch. In 2017 and 2018, one Soyuz and two Ariane 5 ES missions will expand the constellation to 26 satellites out of a planned total of 30.

2015, a record-breaking year for Arianespace 

With its last launch of 2015, Arianespace demonstrates its ability to successfully handle 12 missions in 12 months with its complete family of launchers: Ariane, Soyuz and Vega. This year’s total beats the previous record of 11 launches in 2014. Arianespace had not reached this rate since 2000, when it operated both the Ariane 4 and Ariane 5 launchers. Out of the 21 satellites launched in 2015, 11 were European government satellites, clearly confirming Arianespace’s primary mission of guaranteeing independent and reliable access to space for Europe.

Along with this operational record, Arianespace also set a new business record, booking launch orders in 2015 that are already worth nearly 2.4 billion euros.

Shortly after the announcement of the orbital injection of the two satellites launch, Stéphane Israël, Chairman and CEO of Arianespace, said: “As a benchmark launch services partner in the Galileo program, Arianespace upholds its commitment to guaranteed independent access to space for Europe. Today’s launch, the third this year for Galileo and the eighth on behalf of European governments, marks a further step towards European independence in satellite navigation. With 12 satellites now in the Galileo constellation, the system could deliver its initial services by the end of 2016. I would like to thank the European Union, especially the European Commission’s DG GROWTH, headed by Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, for continuing to place their trust in us. I would also like to thank ESA, our direct customer for this launch, for their constant support. And I would like to thank the Russian space agency Roscosmos for their commitment to our partnership based on the Soyuz launcher, which more than ever reaffirms its dual vocation for commercial and government missions. Following our exceptional year in 2015, I would also like to pay tribute to CNES/CSG and to all companies and staff at the space center, who are vital partners in our ongoing success. And naturally my personal thanks to our teams at Arianespace for this very successful twelfth launch of the year, a record for our family of launchers, clearly reflecting their professional approach to customer service.”

About Arianespace 

Arianespace is the world’s leading satellite launch company. Founded in 1980, Arianespace deploys a family of three launchers, Ariane, Soyuz and Vega, to meet the needs of both commercial and government customers, and has performed over 270 launches to date. Backed by its 20 shareholders and the European Space Agency, Arianespace is the only company in the world capable of launching all types of payloads into all orbits, from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana. As of December 17, 2015, Arianespace had carried out 227 Ariane launches, 39 Soyuz launches (13 at the Guiana Space Center and 26 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, via Starsem) and six Vega launches. Arianespace is headquartered in Evry, near Paris, and has a facility at the Guiana Space Center, plus local offices in Washington D.C., Tokyo and Singapore.

Lancement Soyuz VS 13 – Arianespace a mis en orbite deux nouveaux satellites de la constellation Galileo
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