Galileo Update


Oct 2015 | No Comment

New Galileo satellites being moved into position

Galileo satellites 9 and 10 so far are functioning perfectly during the launch and early orbit phase (LEOP). The pair is undergoing a series of configurations and verification by mission team in Darmstadt, Germany.

The satellites will be part of a network that will provide navigation information, rivaling the US-based GPS.

“The overall mission status is fully nominal, and we conducted the first burn, on 14 September at 16:58 UTC [18:58 CEST],” Jé rémie Benoist, co-Flight Director from CNES, said on an ESA blog.

The European Space Agency (ESA) and Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES) are jointly monitoring the mission.

The satellites will now undergo thruster burns designed to move the satellites to their target orbits. The thrusts will run anywhere from a few dozen seconds to a few dozen minutes

“Following the burns performed during the LEOP phase, the satellites will continue naturally drifting, ending up in their final desired operational orbits at about 23,222 km after another set of thruster burns, planned to achieve fine positioning in orbit, around the end of October,” Liviu Stefanov, ESA co-flight director said.

The ESA/CNES will continue to provide some support even after the satellites are turned over to the Galileo Control Centre, near Munich, for routine operations. Most of the team, though, will start to prepare for the next pair of Galileo satellites to be launched in mid-December 2015.

This success is in contrast to the fifth and sixth Galileo satellites, which were launched Aug. 22, 2014, after delay of a year due to production problems.

At first the launch was hailed a success, with several EU politicians making congratulatory remarks. Quickly it became apparent that something had gone drastically wrong and the Soyuz launcher had put them in highly elliptical orbits that made the useless for navigation.

After a series of complicated maneuvers, satellite 5 reached a useful orbit in November 2014 and satellite 6 did in March 2015.

The orbits are still not what were intended. Instead of covering the same ground every 10 days, they will repeat their positions every 20 days.

The launch of Galileo satellites 7 and 8 went much better, reassuring scientists and politicians that the program was getting back on track.

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