May 23, 2011

EU Sets Galileo Navigation System Launch Date

The European Union (EU) said on Monday that the launch date for the first two satellites of its Galileo navigation system will be October 20.

Antonio Tajani, the EU industry commissioner, said the launch would take place at 7:00 a.m. local time and the satellites would carry the names of Belgian and Bulgarian children.

The system is intended to rival the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) and Chinese and Russian projects.  The program's costs have risen to $7.2 billion.

The Galileo navigation system is set to go online in 2014 and have a constellation of 18 satellites.

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 is the first launch of Soyuz from French Guiana, a program made possible through the cooperation between ESA and Russia."

"Arianespace is both proud and honored to be contributing to 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.
"I would like to thank the European Commission and ESA for choosing our launch services, 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 Centre. More than ever, we will be able to deliver the full range of launch services expected by our customers from around the world."


Image 1: The first two of four Galileo In-Orbit Validation satellites are due for launch in August 2011. Credits: ESA

Image 2: The final constellation of Europe's Galileo satellite navigation system will consist of 30 satellites. Credits: ESA-J. Huart


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