Soyuz Places Two Galileo Navigation Satellites into Orbit

Soyuz rocket lifts off with the Galileo 27 and 28 satellites. (Credit: Arianespace webcast)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Roscosmos PR) — In accordance with the flight program, two new European Galileo FOC M9 satellites have successfully separated from the Fregat upper stage. Navigation spacecraft are in target orbit and are taken over by the customer. The launch vehicles of the State Corporation Roscosmos – the Soyuz-ST-B launch vehicle and the Fregat upper stage – worked without comment.

The Soyuz-ST-B launch vehicle with the Fregat upper stage and two Galileo FOC spacecraft was launched on December 5, 2021 as part of the VS26 launch campaign. The launch of the carrier rocket and the further flight of the upper stage took place in the normal mode. After the separation of the head unit from the third stage of the carrier, “Fregat” continued to launch the vehicles into the target orbit.

The operator of launches from the launch site of the Guiana Space Center is the European provider of launch services Arianespace, on the Russian side, the main contract integrator in the project is Glavkosmos (part of the State Corporation Roscosmos), providing at all stages the interaction of Russian space industry enterprises with Arianespace.

Galileo FOC satellites are manufactured by EADS Astrium for the European Space Agency. Of the 28 Galileo satellites already in low-Earth orbit, 14 were launched by Soyuz-2 launch vehicles between 2011 and 2016, and today two more spacecraft have been added to the satellite constellation. During the first launch from the European cosmodrome in French Guiana in October 2011, Soyuz-ST-B with the Fregat upper stage also launched two Galileo spacecraft into orbit.

Galileo is a European global satellite navigation system in operation since 2016. It provides high-precision positioning, navigation and timing services to more than 2.3 billion users worldwide.  Thanks to the use of two frequencies according to the Galileo standard, it provides real-time positioning accuracy with an accuracy of the meter. The system includes innovative technologies developed by European industry for the benefit of all citizens. In addition to it, global navigation services are provided by the Russian GLONASS, the American GPS and the Chinese Beidou.

The Galileo satellites are built by the general contractor OHB System, and the payload is supplied by the British company Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), which is 99% owned by Airbus Defense and Space. The replenishment of the satellite constellation will continue with the launches of the Soyuz-2 and Ariane 62 missiles, which will complete the deployment of the first generation constellation of six additional Galileo FOC satellites over the next years.

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For the Fregat upper stage, this launch was the 102nd and 26th from the Guiana Space Center. It ensures the efficient execution of all tasks related to launching one or several spacecraft into working orbits or trajectories departing from the Earth. The entire launching process is performed autonomously, without interference from the Earth. The highest reliability, the ability to launch from four cosmodromes located in different geographic zones, and almost perfect launching accuracy give the Fregat upper stage undeniable competitive advantages over world analogues.

The Russian-European project Soyuz at the Guiana Space Center began in 2003, when a decision was made at the government level to launch Soyuz-ST carrier rockets from the European cosmodrome in French Guiana. As part of the decisions taken, a number of intergovernmental agreements were signed, which laid the legal basis for signing contracts for the creation of the ground infrastructure of the Soyuz launch complex, the manufacture and shipment of Soyuz-ST launch vehicles and Fregat upper stages to the Guiana Space Center. In 2005, construction began on the launch complex for Soyuz-ST, and in May 2011, the official ceremony of handing over the launch complex to the European Space Agency and the operator of the cosmodrome, the Arianespace company, took place.