This week’s Arianespace flight with four European Galileo navigation system spacecraft has been approved for a morning liftoff on November 17th following the launch readiness review that was held on November 14th at the Spaceport in French Guiana.
Designated Flight VA233 in Arianespace’s numbering system, this launch will deploy a quartet of Galileo spacecraft during a nearly four-hour flight, with liftoff set for exactly 10:06:48 a.m., local time, in French Guiana. The launch readiness review validated the “go” status of the Ariane 5 ES launcher version, the Galileo passengers as well as the Spaceport’s launch site infrastructure and the network of tracking stations.
As a follow-up to Arianespace’s previous missions that used the medium-lift Soyuz to orbit Galileo satellites in pairs, the heavy-lift Ariane 5 enables four of the global positioning spacecraft to be accommodated on a single launch vehicle. Arianespace previously deployed 14 Galileo in-orbit validation and full operational capability spacecraft from the Spaceport in French Guiana on seven Soyuz missions, along with performing two other Soyuz flights from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with the GIOVE-A and GIOVE-B experimental satellites for the Galileo system. Galileo will offer a guaranteed, high-precision positioning service for Europe under civilian control. Its constellation will comprise 24 operational satellites, along with spares.
The European Commission funds—and has 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.OHB System in Bremen, Germany built the satellites to be orbited by Arianespace’s Flight VA233, and their navigation payloads were supplied by UK-based Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), which is 99 percent owned by Airbus Defence and Space.
The four spacecraft carried by Ariane 5 are called Antonianna, Lisa, Kimberley and Tijmen—with their naming for winners of a European children’s drawing contest.