Arianespace to launch eight Galileo satellites to complete the constellation

Arianespace to launch eight Galileo satellites to complete the constellation

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Arianespace is to launch eight new satellites for the European Galileo global navigation system.

The first two satellites will be launched in 2022, leading to the Full Operational Capability of Galileo open service. Then, three successive launches on Ariane 62 in 2023, 2024 and 2025, will complete the first generation of Galileo satellites and will increase the constellation resilience.

Each of the eight satellites under this order, built by OHB System AG in Bremen, Germany, will weigh less than 730 kg. They will join the 28 Galileo satellites already deployed to date, all launched by Arianespace.

The new satellites are the first since Brexit and the UK leaving the Galileo programme. It also marks a shift in management of the European space activity as part of a new strategy.

The European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) has chosen Arianespace to launch four new Galileo satellites for Europe’s own satellite navigation system. With this order, EUSPA takes over the role of placing launch services contracts for Galileo from ESA, which acted so far on behalf of the European Commission and will continue to be the technical authority for these launches.

“I would like to thank ESA and EUSPA, along with the European Commission for continuing to entrust us with their satellites,” said Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace. “We’re very proud to once again be helping EU deploy its own global navigation satellite system. This additional order to the service of Galileo once again confirms Arianespace’s assigned mission of ensuring reliable access to space for Europe.”

Next: Ariane 6 launcher flies in 2022

Arianespace had 15 successful Ariane, Soyuz and Vega launches in 2021, five more than 2020, launching 305 satellites including the James Webb Space Telescope on December 25. Revenue was up 30 percent to €1.25bn.

For 2022 17 launches are planned, including the first flights of Vega C and Ariane 6. Arianespace’s backlog of orders now stands at 36 launches for 24 different customers.

Along with a large number of orders from European institutions, Arianespace is pleased to note the commitment made by ESA member states as part of their August 13, 2021 resolution to support the operation of Ariane 6 and Vega C in their stabilized phase.

The availability of a European space launchers is a key element of the new space strategy following delays to Ariane 6. The smaller Vega launcher returned to flight on its VV18 mission in 2021, after corrective measures applied by Arianespace and ESA.

The successor, Vega C, is set to make its first flight in the second quarter and Ariane 6 is planned for its first launch in the second half of the year.

The Space Summit in Toulouse on February 16 and the ESA ministerial-level conference scheduled for Paris in November are key meetings for the European space strategy, including a planned global secure connectivity project for the region.

“Kudos to Arianespace’s teams and their government and industry partners for their tremendous work throughout 2021,” said CEO Israël. “We were able to call on our family of launchers to meet our customers’ requirements, efficiently and competitively. We are now eagerly looking forward to meeting the challenges of 2022, with a sustained operating schedule and the advent of Vega C and Ariane 6.”

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