4 Galileo satellites ready for launch
The spacecraft have been fuelled and installed on the multi-payload dispenser system for their 12 December launch.
The 4 satellites will now be transferred from the French Guiana Spaceport’s S3B clean room to the Ariane 5 Final Assembly Building.
The launch is designated Flight VA240 - Arianespace’s second use of the Ariane 5 ES to launch Galileo satellites. The first 4-spacecraft launch was in November 2016. Prior to this, there had been 7 launches using the medium-lift Soyuz - which carries a pair of operational satellites.
Each of the satellites (numbered 19-22) for Flight VA240 weighs ~715 kg and was built in Germany by OHB Systems, with UK-based Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) providing the navigation payload. Planned satellite operational lifetime is 12 years.
This launch will bring the total Galileo constellation to 22. Of the current 18 in orbit:
- 15 are 'useable' (1 temp out of service)
- 2 are under 'testing' (wrong orbits)
- 1 is 'not available' (clock failure)
'Initial Services' (IS) was declared on 15 December 2017 - signals are accurate, but not available all the time. Full Operational Capability (FOC), with a constellation of 24 operational plus 6 spare satellites, is scheduled for 2020.
Further details from the links below . .