Arianespace is conducting prelaunch verifications for Europe's Galileo Flight Model 3 (FM3) satellite, ahead of its launch along with FM4 on the next Soyuz mission from French Guiana, expected during the second half of this year.
Performed in the Spaceport's S1B clean room facility, the prelaunch verification tests include propulsion sub-system testing and a hardware fitness check for the dual-satellite payload configuration on the launcher.
Following the launch, the Galileo FM3 along with the FM4 spacecraft, will join another pair of spacecraft launched by Arianespace aboard a Soyuz launcher on its maiden spaceport flight in October 2011.
Built by a consortium led by the Astrium and Thales Alenia Space, the in-orbit validation platform satellites will allow the European industry to authenticate prototype Galileo-based receivers and services against actual satellite signals.
The platform will also enable performance evaluation of the Galileo's ground system, which maintains the accuracy of the Galileo system.
Composed of a 30-satellite constellation in orbit, the complete Galileo system forms an independent global satellite navigation system for Europe, according to Arianespace.
As a European Commission and European Space Agency's (ESA) programme initiative, each Galileo spacecraft is equipped with an enhanced atomic clock for navigation and a strong transmitter for accurate broadcast of navigation data globally.
Arianespace had launched two experimental satellites, Giove-A in 2005 and Giove-B in 2008 respectively, from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan by its affiliate Starsem.
In October 2011, Arianespace made its maiden Soyuz launch from French Guiana, which ferried the first two operational satellites of the constellation.
Arianespace will launch the Galileo satellite aboard Soyuz and Ariane 5 launch vehicles.
Image: The Galileo FM3 satellite prepared for testing at Spaceport's S1B clean room facility. Photo: courtesy of Arianespace.