PARIS, May 24. /TASS/. A Russian Souyz-ST carrier rocket with two new satellites for Europe’s Galileo navigation system has successfully been launched from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana, the European Space Agency (ESA) reported on Tuesday.
The decision on the current launch was announced at the beginning of the year to expedite the deployment of the Galileo orbital navigation satellite grouping. The carrier rocket will orbit a new batch of FOC (Full Operational Capability) satellites. If the effort crowns with success, the orbital grouping will comprise 14 satellites.
The Galileo global satellite positioning system is the European version of the US GPS and the Russian GLONASS orbital navigation groupings. According to European specialists’ plans, the Galileo satellite grouping is expected to be fully formed by 2020.
As the European Space Agency expects, the Galileo system will start its full-scale operation after the orbital grouping reaches 24 satellites. However, already today the ESA has ordered 26 satellites and in the future this number should be increased to 30 spacecraft.
By now, the European Union has spent over €5 billion on the Galileo program and another €7 billion will be spent on the effort by 2020.