The European GPS alternative Galileo has successfully launched and orbited two new satellites. They are number seven and eight. Another four satellites are due to be launched sometime this year.
The two satellites were launched Friday evening in French Guiana using a Russian Soyuz rocket, the European space agency ESA announced. After a flight of almost four hours, the satellites arrived in their orbit 23,500 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. Due to the successful launch, the first checks can begin, after which the satellites should be operational sometime in the middle of this year.
With the launch, the European alternative to GPS is a success. The ESA had previously faced a launch delay after problems were discovered with a previous attempt to launch Galileo satellites into orbit. The cause was that a fuel line in the last stage was placed too close to a line that was filled with liquid helium. As a result, they entered an orbit that was thousands of kilometers too low. Finally, we managed to position the satellites in the correct orbit. Initially, satellites seven and eight should have been launched in December, but due to the problems, the decision was made to postpone it.
The successful launch clears the way for four more satellites to be launched later this year. Ultimately, the Galileo navigation system will have to rely on 30 satellites, which means that the necessary launches will follow.