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PARIS, October 12 (Itar-Tass) —— Soyuz ST launcher will orbit 2 Galileo navigation system IOV (In-Orbit Validation) spacecrafts from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana on October 12.
The launch is scheduled for 15:15 local time (22:15 Moscow time), the Guiana Space Centre (CNES) confirmed to Itar-Tass.
This will be the third Soyuz launch outside the former Soviet Union. The rocket will carry two European Space Agency satellites (IOV-2 FM3 and FM4), each weighing 700 kilograms.
The In-Orbit Validation (IOV) phase of the Galileo programme, under the responsibility of the European Space Agency (ESA), is nearing completion: the first 2 IOV satellites are to be launched by Soyuz from the Guiana Space Centre on October 20, 2011. The last 2 will be orbited in the same fashion in the summer of 2012.
The chief aim of EGNOS and Galileo, Europe’s global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), is to give the European Union its own satellite-based positioning and timing capability and thus guarantee its independence from existing systems, particularly the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS). These systems must therefore enable Europe to meet the strategic, social, economic and industrial challenges in the burgeoning market for space-based positioning and timing technologies.
Galileo is a standalone system based on a constellation of 30 satellites - 27 operational satellites + 3 on-orbit spares - in medium-Earth orbit (23,222 kilometres) transmitting signals that are compatible and interoperable with the other GNSS currently in service, GPS and the Russian GLONASS system. It also comprises a vast terrestrial infrastructure around the globe. Galileo will offer 5 global-coverage services for different categories of user: open service, commercial service, safety-of-life service, public regulated service (PRS) and search-and-rescue service.
The Full Operational Capability (FOC) phase to deploy the constellation got underway in July 2008 under the responsibility of the European Commission. 14 satellites are scheduled to be operational by mid-2014. With the 4 IOV satellites, there should therefore be 18 Galileo satellites in orbit by 2015, supplying preliminary services and a significantly improved positioning service combining GPS and Galileo. Full deployment of the system is expected to be complete by 2019-2020. CNES has been closely involved in testing and trials for Galileo (with Euridis and EGNOS), as well as in defining signals. The main control room from where the Galileo satellites will be positioned in orbit is located at the Toulouse Space Centre.
The chief aim of EGNOS and Galileo, Europe’s global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), is to give the European Union its own satellite-based positioning and timing capability and thus guarantee its independence from existing systems, particularly the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS). These systems must therefore enable Europe to meet the strategic, social, economic and industrial challenges in the burgeoning market for space-based positioning and timing technologies, ESA said.