PARIS, May 24. /TASS/. A Russian Soyuz-ST carrier rocket that blasted off from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana on Tuesday has successfully orbited satellites for Europe’s Galileo navigation system, the satellite launch company Arianespace reported.
Arianespace CEO Stephane Israel said after the orbital injection of the two Galileo satellites that this new mission had been implemented with full success.
"This morning’s launch, the seventh for Galileo from the Guiana space center and the second of the year for the European Commission and ESA, marks a further step towards European independence in satellite navigation," he said.
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 euros on the Galileo program and another 7 billion euros will be spent on the effort by 2020.