Europe’s next four Galileo satellites have been fuelled at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, in preparation for their launch on 25 July 2018.
The four Galileo satellites were placed into their protective containers to be transported from the S1A processing building to the S3B payload preparation building, where they were filled with the hydrazine fuel that will keep the satellites manoeuvrable during their 12 years.
What are the next steps for the satellites?
The next steps are to fit the four satellites onto the dispenser that holds them in place securely during the launch process and then releases them once the upper stage of the Ariane 5 rocket reaches its 22,922km altitude target orbit.
The satellites plus dispenser will then be fitted onto the upper stage and enclosed by the two sides of the protective launch fairing – which has had the mission logo added to it.
The Ariane 5 launch vehicle has also undergone assembly inside the Spaceport’s Launcher Integration Building.
About the Galileo satellites system
The Galileo satellite system began its initial services on 15 December 2016, and now more than 100 million devices are using Galileo.
The European Space Agency (ESA) describes Galileo as Europe’s own global satellite navigation system, consisting of both the satellites in space and their associated ground infrastructure.
Development and in-orbit validation phases were carried out by ESA and co-funded by the European Commission. This phase created a mini-constellation of four satellites and a reduced ground segment to validate the overall concept, ahead of further deployment.
Success has led to the current Full Operational Capability phase, which was fully funded by the EU and managed by the European Commission. The European Commission and ESA have a ‘delegation agreement’ whereby ESA acts as the system design authority and procurement agent on behalf of the European Commission.