Paris, France: The European Space Agency (ESA) is all set to launch its first two Galileo navigation satellites from French Guiana on 20 October.
The two Galileo In-Orbit Validation satellites reached Europe’s Spaceport last month. Galileo’s second flight model, FM2, touched down on 7 September on an Antonov-124 and the Galileo Protoflight Model followed it seven days later on an Ilyushin 76.
The launch will be historic as it will be the first Soyuz launch from a spaceport outside of Baikonur in Kazakhstan or Plesetsk in Russia.
As a medium-class vehicle, Soyuz will complement Ariane and Vega to extend the flexibility and competitiveness of Europe’s launcher family.
The launch will be followed next year by two more launches. This quartet of satellites will form the operational nucleus of the full Galileo satnav constellation.
They combine the best atomic clock ever flown for navigation – accurate to one second in three million years – with a powerful transmitter to broadcast precise navigation signals.