Four additional Galileo satellites launched aboard an Ariane 5 heavy-lift launcher yesterday from Ariane launch complex No. 3 (ELA 3) in Kourou, French Guiana. The four satellites will join the European Space Agency’s (ESA) current constellation of 18 active Galileo satellites being utilised for global navigation services.
“This successful launch of four additional Galileo satellites marks our ninth mission for the constellation, which supports applications that will benefit the population at large, bringing the total to 22 satellites in orbit,” explained Stéphane Israël, Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace.
The Ariane 5 rocket launched from ELA 3 with its 2,860-kilogram (6305-pound) payload at 18:36:07 GMT (13:36:07 EST). Following the successful launch, the four Galileo satellites were placed into a circular medium Earth orbit at an altitude of 22,922 kilometres (14,243 miles). The satellites will move into their operational orbit at 23,222 kilometres (14,429 miles) in the coming days.
The European Space Agency has scheduled the launch of a final four Galileo satellites with preferred launch providers Arianespace for next year.
“I would like to thank the European Union and, in particular, DG GROW, along with the European Space Agency – our direct customer on this launch – for continuing to trust us with their missions,” said Israël. “A final Ariane 5 ES will embark four additional satellites in the summer of 2018 before Ariane 6 takes over from the end of 2020.”
Yesterday’s launch was 82nd consecutive successful launch of an Ariane 5 rocket. It was also the 11th successfully launch for Arianespace in 2017 with the last deploying Morocco’s Mohammed VI A satellite into a sun-synchronous orbit aboard a Vegas rocket. Yesterday’s mission was also the launch provider’s last scheduled mission of the year.
Image Credit: Arianespace