Two flagship European space programmes will combine on 17 November, as Galileo navigation satellites are carried into orbit by an Ariane 5 rocket for the first time.
Using this customised vehicle allows four Galileos to be launched together. The total number of satellites in orbit will rise from 14 to 18 – the single biggest increase of any navigation satellite constellation from a single launch.
Liftoff of Ariane flight VA233 is scheduled for 13:06 GMT (14:06 CET, 10:06 local time) on 17 November.
This will mark the first time that ESA deploys four Galileo satellitesin one go. Usually, shepherding a single satellite through the first critical days in orbit is a demanding enough task. A combined team in Toulouse, France, from ESA and France’s CNES space agency will make contact, establish control and then see the quartet of satellites through their initial activities.
Two further Ariane 5 Galileo flights are planned to follow over the next two years, one each for the constellation’s remaining orbital planes.
Covering the launch
In cooperation with Arianespace, ESA TV provides broadcasters and the public with free live transmission via satellite and webstream of the launch. More information at:
The latest high-resolution images can be found at ESA’s Multimedia Gallery: http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Missions/Galileo
ESA Photo Library for Professionals: http://www.esa-photolibrary.com
Twitter: @ESA, @GalileoGNSS and the hashtag #Galileo