Arianespace to launch the first ten Galileo satellites

ESA and Arianespace today signed the launch contract for the first ten FOC (Full Operational Capability) satellites in Europe’s planned Galileo satellite positioning system.

Jean-Yves Le Gall, Chairman and CEO of Arianespace, and René Oosterlinck, Director of the Galileo Program and Navigation-related Activities at the European Space Agency (ESA) inked the deal at ESTEC (European Space Research & Technology Center) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

These ten satellites will be placed in a circular orbit at an altitude of 23,000 kilometers. They will be launched in pairs starting in December 2012, using five Soyuz launchers operated from the Guiana Space Center. The satellites will be built by the team of OHB Technology of Germany and Surrey Satellite Technology, Ltd. of the United Kingdom.

Arianespace and its subsidiary Starsem have already orbited the Giove-A and Giove-B satellites, thus securing the frequencies allocated to the Galileo constellation. Arianespace will also launch the first four operational satellites in the constellation, within the scope of the In Orbit Validation (IOV) program, from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, starting at the end of 2010.

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