Ariane 5 carries four Galileo satellites into orbit

by | Nov 17, 2016 | commercial launch services, Launches, Satellites | 0 comments

In the first of what is planned to be three launches, an Arianespace, Ariane 5 heavy-lift launch vehicle has lifted-off from Kourou, French Guiana, carrying four Galileo GPS satellites for the EU. The launch took place at 1306 GMT, 17 November, from the Ariane Launch Complex No. 3 (ELA 3) at the European Spaceport. The four spacecraft will be placed into Medium-Earth Orbit (MEO) – about 23,000 km – nearly four hours after the launch.

The Galileo satellites are built and integrated by OHB Systems, Germany however, their payloads are supplied by SSTL, UK, a subsidiary of Airbus DS. This launch will bring the number of Galileo satellites in-orbit to 18, the complete constellation will consist of 24 satellites plus two in-orbit spares.

An Ariane 5 lifts off from Kourou, French Guiana carrying four Galileo GPS satellites. Courtesy of Arianespace.

An Ariane 5 lifts off from Kourou, French Guiana carrying four Galileo GPS satellites. Courtesy of Arianespace.


The Ariane 5’s second stage has had to be altered for the Galileo missions, replacing the modern hydrogen-fuelled HM7B engine, with an older hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide powered Aestus engine, due to the latters ability to be restarted multiple times in-orbit. The second stage will release the satellites a small distance from their intended orbit – 300 km – allowing it to enter a safe graveyard orbit beneath the spacecraft, whilst they lift themselves into the desired orbit.

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