MOSCOW, September 11. /TASS/. Russia’s Soyuz-ST-B carrier rocket has put into the designated orbit two Europe’s Galileo FOC M3 global positioning system satellites, the press service of the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) reported on Friday.
"On September 11 at 8:56 a.m. Moscow time [5:56 GMT] two European spacecraft Galileo FOC M3 separated from the Fregat-MT booster after it reached the designated orbit," the statement from the agency said.
The Soyuz-ST-B carrier rocket blasted off from the European space center in Kourou, French Guiana, on the northeast coast of South America, at 23:08 local time on Thursday (02:08 GMT).
The satellites Sat-9 and Sat-10 are the fifth and sixth operational spacecraft in the Galileo group. Their orbiting on Friday brings the number of Galileo satellites to a total of ten in space, from the overall of 30 planned in the grouping.
Europe's version of Russia's GLONASS positioning system and the American GPS satellite navigation system, Galileo is a project of the European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA).
The Galileo satellite constellation is expected to be completed in 2020. According to Didier Faivre, Galileo program director with the ESA, the European global positioning system would be fully operational after 24 satellites put in orbit.
The European program of the global positioning satellite system requires substantial investment and to date the European Union has spent over 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion) on the Galileo program, with 7 billion euros (almost $8 billion) more expected to be set aside for this purpose until 2020.