Oops! Soyuz Places 2 Galileo Satellites in Wrong Orbits

Soyuz launches two Galileo satellites (Credit: ESA)
Soyuz launches two Galileo satellites (Credit: ESA)

After much celebratory rhetoric on Friday over the launch of two Galileo navigation satellites from Kourou, European officials realized the spacecraft were placed in the wrong orbits.

Arianespace, which managed the launch of the Russian Soyuz booster, made a terse announcement:

Complementary observations gathered after separation of the Galileo FOC M1 satellites on Soyuz Flight VS09 have highlighted a discrepancy between targeted and reached orbit.

Investigations are underway. More information will be provided after a first flight data analysis to be completed on August 23, 2014.

ESA’s announcement was somewhat less terse:

Following the announcement made by Arianespace on the anomalies of the orbit injection of the Galileo satellites, the teams of industries and agencies involved in the early operations of the satellites are investigating the potential implications on the mission.

Both satellites have been acquired and are safely controlled and operated from ESOC, ESA’s Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

Further information on the status of the satellites will be made available after the preliminary analysis of the situation.

Speculation has focused on the Fregat upper stage of the Soyuz launch vehicle.