Navigation network nears completion

December 14th, 2017, Published in Articles: EE Publishers, Articles: PositionIT, Featured: PositionIT

Four more Galileo navigation satellites have been launch on an Ariane 5 rocket in mid-December 2017, with only one launch remaining to complete the Galileo constellation and delivering global coverage. Galileo is Europe’s civil global satellite navigation system, which will allow users worldwide to know their exact position in time and space with great precision and reliability.

The Ariane 5 rocket launched, under contract to the European Space Agency (ESA), from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana carrying Galileo satellites 19 to 22.

The complete Galileo constellation will consist of 24 satellites along three orbital planes, plus two spare satellites per orbit.

The complete Galileo constellation will consist of 24 satellites along three orbital planes, plus two spare satellites per orbit.

The satellites were released into their target 22 922 km-altitude orbit by the dispenser atop the Ariane 5 upper stage, from where they are being steered into their final working orbits. There they will undergo around six months of tests – performed by the European Global Navigation Satellite System Agency (GSA) – to confirm that they are ready to join the working constellation.

The Galileo programme is funded and owned by the EU. The European Commission has the overall responsibility for the programme, managing and overseeing the implementation of all programme activities. ESA is the design agent, system engineer and procurement agent of Galileo on behalf of the European Commission. Galileo is now an operating reality, and in July 2017, operational oversight of the system was passed to the GSA.

The next Galileo launch of another quartet of satellites is scheduled for mid-2018, and will complete the 24–satellite constellation with two orbital spares.

Meanwhile, ESA is working with the European Commission and GSA on dedicated research and development efforts and system design to begin the procurement of the Galileo Second Generation, along with other future navigation technologies.

Contact ESA, www.esa.int