Arianespace, the European Space Agency and the European Commission announced today that the launch of the first two satellites of Europe's global navigation satellite system is planned to take place on 20 October 2011. This will be the first of a series of Galileo satellite launches to be performed by Arianespace from the CSG, Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.
The announcement of the date of the first launch follows a detailed assessment review, under the chairmanship of the Director General of the European Space Agency, with the participation of Arianespace and industrial prime contractors. This assessment was held at the end of last week and concluded that the space and ground segment components as well as operations will be ready for a launch in October.
The two Galileo satellites will be deployed using a Soyuz launcher. The October launch will mark Soyuz’ inaugural flight from its new launch facilities at the CSG.
Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of ESA, pointed out the significance of this launch: “The October launch will be a perfect example of European and international cooperation. On one side we will have the first operational Galileo satellites in orbit, resulting from the cooperation between the European Union and ESA. On the other side this launch is the first launch of Soyuz from CSG, a programme made possible through the cooperation between ESA and Russia.”
“Arianespace is both proud and honored to be contributing to Galileo, this innovative project, reflecting the innovative technologies that are constantly being developed in Europe for the benefit of all citizens,” said Jean-Yves Le Gall, Chairman and CEO of Arianespace. “After the successful orbiting of the first two qualification satellites of the constellation, Giove A and Giove B, I would like to thank the European Commission and ESA for having chosen us again, which is a further recognition of our market leadership. With this launch, we will also be opening a new chapter in our own history, as we start Soyuz operations from the Guiana Space Center. More than ever, we will be able to deliver the full range of launch services expected by our customers from around the world.”
The Galileo programme is Europe’s initiative for a state-of-the-art global satellite navigation system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control.
The definition phase, the development and In-Orbit Validation phase of the Galileo programme were carried out by the European Space Agency (ESA) and co-funded by ESA and the European Community.
The Full Operational Capability phase of the Galileo programme is managed and fully funded by the European Commission. The Commission and ESA have signed a delegation agreement by which ESA acts as design and procurement agent on behalf of the Commission.
Arianespace is the world’s leading launch service & solutions company, providing innovation to its customers since 1980. Backed by 21 shareholders and the European Space Agency, Arianespace offers an unrivalled family of launchers, comprising Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega, and an international workforce renowned for a culture of commitment and excellence. As of 23 May 2011, Arianespace had launched with Ariane launchers a total of 294 payloads, including more than half of all the commercial satellites now in service worldwide. It has a backlog of 18 Ariane 5 and 18 Soyuz launches, equal to more than three years of business.