After three successive delays, the Soyuz Vs26 launcher was launched from the Guyana Space Center (Csg) and brought two more satellites from the Galileo constellation into orbit, for a satellite navigation service operated by the European Commission, with the European Space Agency (ESA) responsible for the design, development and procurement of the satellites. industrial and land segment, and the European Union Space Program Agency (Euspa), responsible for Galileo’s operations and service provision.
Initially scheduled for December 1, the launch was postponed twice due to weather conditions and once due to the unavailability of a telemetry station. At night between December 4 and 5, the launch finally got the go-ahead.
Thus, the number of satellites of the Galileo system currently in orbit, capable of locating within one meter, increases to 28. Of the satellites already in operation, 14 were carried by a Russian launcher between 2011 and 2016 and 12 by Ariane 5 between 2016 and 2018. When fully operational, the constellation will include 30 satellites and will cost Europe about eight billion euros. From 2024, the launch of a new generation of Galileo satellites is expected to continue to compete with the US GPS system.
The launch is the tenth Soyuz from the European base in French Guiana. Since 2011, the year of the first launch, 26 Soyuz have left the city of Sinamare near Kourou, where the launch pad intended for this operator has been installed. The mission is the penultimate at European base for 2021. An Ariane 5 rocket launch is scheduled for December 22, which will bring into orbit the James Webb Telescope, the successor to the historic Hubble Space Telescope.
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