The first flight of a Soyuz rocket from the Kourou Spaceport in French Guiana has successfully launched the first two in-orbit validation (IOV) satellites built by Airbus Defence and Space for the European satellite navigation system Galileo, a joint European Commission–European Space Agency initiative.
These two innovative satellites are the first of four IOV satellites developed by Airbus Defence and Space for the Galileo system. The first two spacecraft will be joined next year by the third and forth IOV satellites. In orbit, these four satellites will validate the Galileo system design – four satellites are the minimum required to provide positioning information.
The in-orbit validation phase is an important milestone in setting up the system and is laying the foundations for Galileo.
The satellites were designed and manufactured by a team under the leadership of Airbus Defence and Space Germany, with Airbus Defence and Space UK overseeing the development and integration of the satellites’ state-of-the-art navigation payload. Airbus Defence and Space Spain supplied the navigation antenna. Along with overseeing the development of the Galileo IOV satellites, Airbus Defence and Space is significantly involved in the Galileo Ground Segment and system support activities.
The dual launch of the first two operational Galileo satellites marks the beginning of a new era for satellite navigation in Europe.
Image © ESA / P. Carril