The first launch of a Russian Soyuz rocket from Europe’s new South American Spaceport in French Guiana has been postponed at least 24 hours due to technical problems. “Following an anomaly detected during fueling of the Soyuz launcher’s third stage, the final countdown has been interrupted,” ESA said in a statement. “Soyuz and its two Galileo IOV satellites, along with the launch facility, have been placed in a safe mode. A new launch date will be announced later today.”
UPDATE: ESA has announced a new launch time for Friday, October 21 at 10:30:26 GMT (6:30 EDT).
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The problem was caused by a leak inside a valve. The Galileo system is being launched as a new GPS system, which will provide more than double the coverage and more accurate locations than the current US-provided Global Positioning System.
The launch was originally scheduled for last year, bad weather delayed the construction of the Soyuz launch facility.