Arianespace to launch four satellites of Galileo constellation
Arianespace has been selected to launch four new satellites that will be part of Europe’s Galileo satellite-based navigation system.
The arrangement marks the first launch order for the company’s next-generation Ariane 6 rocket and will see the launch of two Ariane 62 versions from Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana.
Part of the Ariane 6 rocket family, the two rockets are expected to deploy the four satellites in two separate missions.
The missions are scheduled to be carried out between the end of 2020 and mid-2021.
The European Space Agency (ESA) will implement the new contracts on behalf of the European Commission (DG Growth) and the EU. The deals also include Arianespace’s Soyuz rocket as a backup vehicle.
Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël said: “Through this decision, which adds two additional launches to follow the already-scheduled Ariane 5 ES flights, the European Commission and ESA are clearly indicating a key commitment to Arianespace’s next generation of launchers, which reaffirms more than ever its mission to ensure Europe’s autonomous access to space.”
Each new 750kg Galileo satellite is to be placed in medium Earth orbit (MEO) at an altitude of 23,222km.
The Galileo system is the first joint infrastructure financed by the EU and features innovative technologies developed in Europe.
Arianespace has used Soyuz rockets to launch 14 of the 18 Galileo satellites currently in orbit. Last November, the company launched the last four satellites of the Galileo constellation on a single mission using an Ariane 5 ES rocket.
Arianespace is also planning to perform two new Ariane 5 ES missions in December this year and mid-next year.