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Next Galileo satellites set to launch in March

Article by: Mike Barrett
Date: 5 Feb 2015

Two Galileo navigation satellites are set to launch from French Guiana next month following the failure to reach planned orbit of the last launch. The two satellites will bring the number of Galileo satellites in orbit to 8, including the four test satellites.

After the failure of the launch of the first operational Galileo satellites in August last year the Soyuz operations were grounded pending the determination of the fault. This was determined to be a frozen fuel line in the Fregat upper stage of the rocket. The Soyuz/Fregat has now been approved for flight once again having had modifications to the fuel lines to prevent a similar occurrence. This has cleared the way for the next launch scheduled for March 26th.

In the mean time the Galileo operations team have managed to recover one of the satellites from the previous failed launch into an operational orbit. This was achieved over 17 days using a series of 11 manoeuvres and its previous elliptical orbit is now circular. This is not the ideal operational orbit, but is one that is acceptable to the constellation. Engineers are still determining if this will be a useful process for the other satellite, which is still in a lower elliptical orbit.

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