News Item

Successful Galileo launch

12 December saw 4 more Galileo satellites join the constellation.

Galileo satellites 19-22 were launched at 1836 UTC (1536 local) on 12 December by an Ariane 5 heavy launcher from the Guiana Space Center (CSG), Kourou, French Guiana. This was the 9th Galileo launch from CSG and the second using the Ariane 5 ES launcher; previous launches had been in satellite pairs, using Soyuz launchers.

The first pair of 1,576 lb (715 kg) satellites was released ~3 h 36 m after liftoff, with the second pair 20 minutes later. They were released into their target 12,377 NM (22,922 km) medium Earth orbits (MEO) inclined at 57ยบ; over the next few days they will be manoeuvred into their final working orbits at 12,539 NM (23,222 km) altitude. They will then begin ~6 months of tests performed by the European Global Navigation Satellite System Agency (GSA) before joining the operational constellation.

The satellites were 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 mission brings the Galileo system up to 22 satellites:
- 14 usable
- 2 not available (clock problems)
- 2 under 'testing' (wrong orbits)
- 4 just launched

Initial Services (IS) began on 15 December 2016 - Galileo satellites can be used within multi-constellation fixing, but do not give worldwide cover themselves. Full Operational Capability (FOC), with Open Service (OS), Public Regulated Service (PRS) and Search & Rescue Service (SARS), is scheduled for 2020.

A last Ariane 5 launch will orbit 4 more Galileo satellites in 2018, then Ariane 6 will take over in 2020-21.

Image from ESA. Details from the links below . .

  • 13 December 2017
  • RIN

Contact Us

The Royal Institute of Navigation
1 Kensington Gore

+44 (0)20 7591 3134

E-Mail Communication

The Royal Institute of Navigation periodically sends out email updates to its membership and those who have subscribed to events and conferences run by the RIN. In doing so, the RIN takes all reasonable precautions to ensure that the emails are only sent to those who have requested them, and that no third party can make unauthorised use of any email address to send out mailings.If you receive unsolicited mail from any address then please inform us at and we will take appropriate action.

Join the RIN

You can apply for any category of RIN membership by completing the online membership application form and paying using our secure credit/debit card payment system.

Join Now