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Galileo satellites for Arianespace’s December 12 mission are ready for launcher integration

(1 December 2017 - Arianespace) As preparations advance for Arianespace’s year-ending flight from the Spaceport in French Guiana, the mission’s payload of four Galileo navigation satellites is now ready to join up with its Ariane 5 launcher.

The spacecraft have been fueled and installed on their multi-payload dispenser system, clearing the way for transfer from the Spaceport’s S3B clean room to Ariane 5’s Final Assembly Building.

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Two of the four Flight VA240’s Galileo spacecraft are shown during integration with the dispenser system. (courtesy: Arianespace)

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All four satellites have been installed on the dispenser. (courtesy: Arianespace)

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Transfer to the Ariane 5 Final Assembly Building. (courtesy: Arianespace)

Designated Flight VA240, the upcoming mission will mark Arianespace’s second use of an Ariane 5 ES version to loft spacecraft for Europe’s Galileo global navigation system – following the first four-passenger launch in November 2016 on the heavy-lift launcher. This came after seven previous missions using the medium-lift Soyuz, which carried a pair of operational satellites each.

Flight VA240 at the service of a European initiative

Galileo is the European initiative to develop a global satellite navigation system. Under civilian control, it will offer a guaranteed, high-precision positioning service and features innovative technologies developed in Europe for the benefit of all citizens.

The European Commission holds overall responsibility for Galileo’s management and implementation, with the European Space Agency assigned design and development of the new generation of systems and infrastructure.

Each of the Galileo passengers for Flight VA240 weighs approximately 715 kg. and was built by OHB System in Germany, with U.K.-based Surrey Satellite Technology supplying the navigation payload. All four will be deployed into medium-Earth orbit by Arianespace.

Scheduled for a December 12 liftoff, Ariane 5’s mission with the four Galileo spacecraft will close out a busy year of launch activity for Arianespace.

The company has conducted 10 missions from French Guiana so far in 2017 – involving five launches of the heavy-lift Ariane 5, two with the medium Soyuz and three with the lightweight Vega.