The Soyuz ST-B launcher carrying the next two Galileo In-Orbit Validation satellites took off as scheduled on 18:15:00 GMT (11:15 PDT) October 12. Deployment of its twin satellites into orbit took place 3 hours 44 minutes after take-off. All the stages of the Soyuz vehicle performed as planned and the
Fregat-MT upper stage released the Galileo satellites into their targeted orbit at close to 23 200 km altitude.
CANSPACE Listserv reports, “NORAD/JSpOC are tracking three objects from the launch:
1 38857U 12055A 12287.39028510 -.00000010 00000-0 00000+0 0 40
2 38857 055.3417 239.5297 0002857 220.9108 309.5819 01.70229112 21
1 38858U 12055B 12287.39028542 -.00000010 00000-0 00000+0 0 24
2 38858 055.3421 239.5258 0011396 234.3183 295.7952 01.70006115 13
1 38859U 12055C 12287.39161626 -.00000010 00000-0 00000+0 0 37
2 38859 055.3444 239.5347 0072340 243.6619 284.3270 01.68014156 19
“Presumably, the first two (A and B) are the Galileo satellites. They are drifting towards their designated orbits.”
The European Space Agency (ESA) launched this second pair of Galileo IOV satellites from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.
This flight is designated VS03 in Arianespace‘s mission numbering system, and it was the Spaceport’s third launch since Soyuz was introduced at this near-equatorial facility one year ago. Arianespace is the launch contractor.
The two Galileo satellites will join the first two spacecraft orbited by Arianespace’s historic VS01 flight on October 21, 2011, marking Soyuz’ introduction at the Spaceport. Once all four are operational in space, they will provide the minimum number of satellites required for navigational fixes — enabling system validation testing when all are visible in the sky.
As a European initiative, the Galileo satellite navigation system is being developed in a collaborative effort of the European Union and the European
Space Agency. The In-Orbit Validation (IOV) satellites weigh 700 kg. each and were built by a consortium led by the Astrium division of EADS — which
produced the platforms and has responsibility for the payloads, while Thales Alenia Space handled the assembly and testing tasks.