Satellite preparations move into full swing for the next Arianespace Soyuz mission from French Guiana
Both Galileo navigation satellites for Arianespace’s third Soyuz flight from the Spaceport are now in French Guiana, marking a new milestone for this mission scheduled in the second half of 2012.
The Flight Model #4 (FM4) satellite arrived today at Félix Eboué International Airport near the capital city of Cayenne, delivered by a chartered Ilyushin Il-76TD cargo jetliner.
Its FM3 co-passenger remains busy in the Spaceport’s S1B payload preparation building – completing its fit check with the dispenser for the dual-satellite payload arrangement on Soyuz. The dispenser was developed for Arianespace by RUAG Space, and carries the satellites in a parallel arrangement.
These two spacecraft will join another pair of Galileo satellites launched by Arianespace in October 2011 on Soyuz’ maiden flight from French Guiana. All four are In-Orbit Validation platforms that will enable European industry to validate prototype Galileo-based receivers and services using actual satellite signals, while also allowing performance assessments of the ground system that will maintain the Galileo system’s precision.
Arianespace is responsible for deploying the entire Galileo constellation, to be composed of 30 satellites in orbit as an independent global satellite navigation system for Europe.
Galileo launches began with the 2005 and 2008 orbiting of two experimental satellites – Giove-A and Giove-B – carried on Soyuz vehicles operated from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan by Arianespace’s Starsem affiliate. It was followed by last October’s maiden Soyuz launch from French Guiana with the constellation’s first two operational satellites.
Arianespace is able to use a mix of both its medium-lift Soyuz and heavy-lift Ariane 5 launchers in deploying the full Galileo system, demonstrating the company’s flexibility in orbiting satellite constellations.
Galileo is an initiative of the European Commission and European Space Agency.