28 March 2015: With the launch of Galileo 7 and 8, the EU’s Galileo satellite navigation system now has a total eight satellites in orbit. Galileo 7 & 8 lifted off at 21:46 GMT on March 27 from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on top of a Soyuz rocket.
All the Soyuz stages performed as planned, with the Fregat upper stage releasing the satellites into their target orbit close to 23 500 km altitude, around 3 hours 48 minutes after liftoff.The launch is designated VS11 in Arianespace’s numbering system. Flight VS11’s passengers — built by OHB System, with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. supplying the navigation payloads — are the third and fourth Full Operational Capability (FOC) satellites in the Galileo program, which is creating a European-operated space-based navigation system.
Following initial checks, run jointly by ESA and France’s CNES space agency from the CNES Toulouse centre, the two satellites will be handed over to the Galileo Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany and the Galileo in-orbit testing facility in Redu, Belgium for testing before they are commissioned for operational service. This is expected in mid-year.The new pair will join the six satellites already launched, in October 2011, October 2012 and August 2014.