Final countdown underway for Arianespace’s Soyuz launch with two Galileo navigation satellites
Tonight’s Arianespace mission to expand Europe’s Galileo constellation has entered the final countdown with the approval to fuel its medium-lift Soyuz launcher at the Spaceport in French Guiana.
The “upper composite” containing Flight VS12’s two Galileo satellites is shown in this close-up photo, taken earlier today in the upper levels of the Soyuz launcher’s mobile gantry at the Spaceport in French Guiana.
This mission – designated Flight VS12 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system – will have a payload performance of approximately 1,600 kg., which includes the two 715-kg.-class satellites and their dispenser system.
Liftoff is set for an exact time: 11:08:10 p.m. local time in French Guiana, with the Soyuz deploying the satellites at nearly 3 hrs., 48 min. after liftoff.
The passengers for tonight’s launch are the fifth and sixth FOC (Full Operational Capability) spacecraft for Europe’s Galileo navigation program. OHB System built the satellites, and their navigation payloads were supplied by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.
Galileo’s FOC phase is managed and funded by the European Commission. The European Space Agency has been delegated as the design and procurement agent on the Commission’s behalf.
The Galileo system will provide high-quality positioning, navigation and timing services under civilian control, and is designed for interoperability with the U.S. GPS and Russian Glonass global positioning systems.