Thursday 17 November, Ariane 5 completed a flawless launch from Europe’s spaceport at the Guiana Space Centre, orbiting the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th satellites for the European Galileo satellite navigation programme. Ultimately, Galileo will offer much greater precision and reliability than any other satellite navigation system in the world. The flight marked the European launcher’s 75th straight success since 2003.
On its 75th straight successful launch, Ariane 5 sent aloft four new Full Operational Capability (FOC) Galileo satellites, following the two previous ones orbited by Soyuz from the Guiana Space Centre in May. Galileo is now set to give Europe an extremely precise, reliable and secure satellite navigation system.
Placed in a circular inclined orbit at an altitude of 22,900 kilometres, the four satellites—each weighing slightly over 700 kilograms—are the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th of a constellation that will ultimately comprise 26 satellites. They will deliver signals compatible and interoperable with existing satellite navigation systems, but one of Galileo’s key advantages is that it offers near-metric precision, and that is before signals are further refined by additional processing. The 26 Galileo satellites will provide unrivalled precision and serve an unprecedented range of applications. The eight satellites still to be deployed after this latest launch will be orbited by two Ariane 5 flights.
On the occasion of this launch, Jean-Yves Le Gall, CNES President and interministerial coordinator for European satellite navigation programmes, commented: “CNES is especially proud of this latest launch by Ariane 5, first because it is the sixth this year, further demonstrating the great capabilities of our operational teams; second because it marks our launcher’s 75th straight success and another fine achievement for spacefaring Europe; and third, because it shows once again the excellence of our agency’s four field centres—Head Office, managing France’s contribution to Galileo; the Launch Vehicles Directorate (DLA), which played a key role adapting Ariane 5 for this mission; the Toulouse Space Centre, where our teams will now be positioning the four satellites; and the Guiana Space Centre, where they were launched. I would therefore like to warmly congratulate all of the partners working on this fundamental programme for Europe’s space policy, at the European Commission, ESA, Arianespace and European manufacturers, and of course the men and women of CNES who with this success have once again flown the flag for France and Europe.”