Arianespace doubles its Galileo delivery capacity with Ariane 5
Ariane 5’s first flight at the service of Galileo doubled Arianespace’s ability to orbit satellites for the European navigation system, while also marking the heavy-lift launcher’s 75 consecutive success.
With a precise on-time liftoff this morning from the Spaceport in French Guiana, the Ariane 5 ES launch vehicle delivered its quartet of passengers into medium-Earth circular orbit at the completion of a mission lasting 3 hours, 55 minutes.
They will join 14 Galileo in-orbit validation and full operational capability spacecraft previously launched in pairs by Arianespace on seven medium-lift Soyuz missions from French Guiana, along with two other Soyuz flights from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with the system’s GIOVE-A and GIOVE-B experimental satellites.
More Ariane 5 launches for Galileo
The four spacecraft orbited today are called Antonianna, Lisa, Kimberley and Tijmen – named after children from Italy, Hungary, Malta and The Netherlands who won a European drawing contest.
Their deployment was performed by a new payload dispenser system from Airbus Safran Launchers, which also is prime contractor for Ariane 5.
Arianespace Chairman and CEO Stéphane Israël said two more Ariane 5s will continue the pace in 2017 and 2018, leading to 26 Galileo satellites in orbit.
Galileo brings civilian global positioning for Europe
As a high-precision positioning service, Galileo is designed to provide a new European global satellite navigation system under civilian control.
Flight VA233 lifted off at today’s precise scheduled moment of launch: 10:06:48 a.m. local time in French Guiana.
Funded by the European Union, overall responsibility for Galileo’s management and implementation is held by the European Commission, with the European Space Agency assigned design and development of the new generation of systems and infrastructure.
The four Galileo satellites on today’s Arianespace’s mission – designated Flight VA233 in the company’s launcher family numbering system – are sized at 2.7 x 1.2 x 1.1 meters and were built by OHB System in Bremen, Germany.
Their navigation payloads were supplied by UK-based Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), which is 99-percent owned by Airbus Defence and Space.
Confirming Europe’s autonomous access to space
Speaking at the Spaceport after the four Galileo satellites’ deployment today, European Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska underscored the role that Arianespace’s launcher family has in Europe’s space strategy, which includes the three Ariane 5s that have been acquired to support the satellite navigation system’s deployment.
“When the Commission decided to buy three Ariane 5 launchers…it was not only to accelerate our Galileo deployment, it also was an important element for our autonomous access to space,” said Bieńkowska, who is the European Commission’s Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. “We will continue supporting the development of the most effective, reliable and competitive European launchers with the new Ariane 6 and Vega C.”
She added that Flight VA233 follows the recent adoption of a new European space strategy, which sets the priorities to be pursued during the next 10-15 years, adding this is the first time that Europe has such a roadmap.
75 successes in a row for Ariane 5
Flight VA233 also marked the 75th consecutive success for Ariane 5, further reinforcing its position as the launch services marketplace’s benchmark for reliability and performance.
With the new record for Arianespace’s full family of launchers, Ariane 5 has now surpassed its predecessor Ariane 4, Arianespace’s Israël added. “Let me congratulate all Ariane partners for this outstanding track record.”
Today’s mission was Arianespace’s ninth flight of 2016, continuing the momentum that has seen all three members of its launcher family in action this year. The other launches performed since January utilized five heavy-lift Ariane 5s, two medium-lift Soyuz vehicles and one lightweight Vega.
The next Arianespace mission is being readied for liftoff on December 5, using a Vega to orbit the GÖKTÜRK-1A Earth observation satellite for Turkey.