Sea Launch Lofts Echostar IX/Telstar 13

Image credit: Sea Launch

The dual-use Echostar IX/Telstar 13 satellite was successfully placed into orbit Thursday on board a Zenit-3SL which was launched from the Sea Launch platform floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The communications satellite separated 66 minutes after launch, and will eventually provide television services to the United States. This is the tenth launch for Sea Launch, which is expected to have two more launches this year.

Sea Launch, the world?s most reliable launch service provider for heavy commercial communication satellites, today successfully launched the EchoStar IX/Telstar 13 satellite to orbit for EchoStar Communications Corporation and Loral Skynet.

A Zenit-3SL launch vehicle lifted off at 8:31 pm PDT (3:31 GMT) from the Odyssey Launch Platform positioned at 154 degrees West Longitude, on the Equator. All systems performed nominally throughout the flight. The Block DM-SL upper stage inserted the 4,737 kg (10,443 lb) EchoStar IX/Telstar 13 satellite into a high perigee geosynchronous transfer orbit. As planned, the spacecraft?s first signal was acquired at 9:46 pm PDT (4:46 GMT), shortly after spacecraft separation, by a ground station in Western Australia. The spacecraft will be located in geostationary orbit at 121 degrees West Longitude.

Upon completion of the successful mission, Jim Maser, president and general manager of Sea Launch, said, ?I want to congratulate Space Systems/Loral (SS/L), EchoStar Communications Corporation, Loral Skynet and the entire Sea Launch team for a great job! Once again, we achieved a very smooth operation. This is clearly a tribute to the skill, dedication and experience of everyone in the Sea Launch organization and I am very proud to be part of this talented group. We have just completed our second launch in less than two months and we expect to continue this tempo well through next year.

?This mission also marked our tenth launch and the first for SS/L,? Maser continued. ?We appreciate the confidence and trust they and their customers have demonstrated and we look forward to the many more SS/L launches on our manifest. We also welcome the opportunity to serve EchoStar and Loral Skynet in the future.?

SS/L built the EchoStar IX/Telstar 13 spacecraft in Palo Alto, Calif. The Ku-band capacity will enhance EchoStar?s U.S. DISH Network satellite television service. EchoStar has also equipped the spacecraft with the first commercial Ka-band spot-beam payload in the United States. In addition, in a unique multi-band, satellite-sharing arrangement, Loral Skynet will own and operate the satellite?s C-band capacity, as Telstar 13, which will provide television programmers with North American coverage.

Sea Launch Company, LLC, headquartered in Long Beach, Calif., is a world leader in providing heavy-lift commercial launch services. This multinational partnership offers the most direct and cost-effective route to geostationary orbit. With the advantage of a launch site on the Equator, the reliable Zenit-3SL rocket can lift a heavier spacecraft mass or provide longer life on orbit, offering best value plus schedule assurance. Sea Launch has a current backlog of 14 firm launch contracts. For additional information and images of this successfully completed mission, visit the Sea Launch website at:

Original Source: Sea Launch

Sea Launch Heads Out

Image credit: Sea Launch

The Odyssey platform and Sea Launch Commander departed home port in California to make the journey down to the Earth’s equator in the Pacific Ocean. This time Sea Launch will loft the EchoStar IX/Telstar 13 broadcast satellite on board a Zenit-3SL rocket. The two-hour launch window is scheduled to begin on August 8 at 0331 GMT (11:31 pm EDT).

The Odyssey Launch Platform and the Sea Launch Commander have departed Sea Launch Home Port for the launch of the EchoStar IX/Telstar 13 satellite for EchoStar Communications Corporation and Loral Skynet. Liftoff is scheduled for August 7, in a two-hour launch window that will open at 8:31 pm PDT (3:31:00 GMT).

The Sea Launch vessels are sailing from Sea Launch Home Port, in the Port of Long Beach, Calif., to the launch site on the Equator at 154? West Longitude. Upon arrival, a 72-hour countdown will begin and the platform will be ballasted to launch depth. Over the course of the three-day countdown, the launch team will perform final tests on the rocket and spacecraft, and prepare for launch operations. The three-stage Zenit-3SL rocket will loft the 4,737 kg (10,443 lb) EchoStar IX/Telstar 13 satellite to a high perigee of 760 km in geosynchronous transfer orbit.

This is the first of several launch contracts Sea Launch will execute for Space Systems/Loral, the spacecraft manufacturer. The LS-1300-class satellite will be operational in its final position in geostationary orbit at 121? West Longitude. EchoStar?s Ku-band fixed satellite services (FSS) transponders are designed to enhance its U.S. DISH Network service. The spacecraft is also equipped with one of the first commercial Ka-band spot-beam payloads in the United States as well as a C-band payload.

In a unique satellite-sharing arrangement, EchoStar will own the Ku- and Ka-band payloads on this satellite. Loral Skynet, a subsidiary of Loral Space & Communications based in Bedminster, N.J., will own and operate the C-band capacity as Telstar 13. From its ideal orbital location and its 24 C-band transponders operating at 36 MHz, Telstar 13 will provide programmers with coverage of North America, including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Central America.

Sea Launch Company, LLC, headquartered in Long Beach, Calif., is a world leader in providing heavy-lift commercial launch services. This multinational partnership offers the most direct and cost-effective route to geostationary orbit. With the advantage of a launch site on the Equator, the reliable Zenit-3SL rocket can lift a heavier spacecraft mass or provide longer life on orbit, offering best value plus schedule assurance. Sea Launch has a current backlog of 15 firm launch contracts. For additional information and live coverage of this mission, visit the Sea Launch website at:

Note to editors: Sea Launch will carry a live satellite feed and streaming video of the entire mission on the day of launch. We will post transponder coordinates as well as additional information and high resolution images on a media site at:

Original Source: Boeing News Release

Air Force Suspends Business With Boeing

Image credit: Boeing

The US Air Force announced its investigation findings today, that The Boeing Company had committed serious violation of federal law by using propriety documents from Lockheed Martin to win a series of launches during a 1998 contract competition. The Air Force said that Boeing will forfeit seven of its 19 launch contracts and several upcoming launch contracts will be awarded to Lockheed Martin instead of Boeing. All told, Boeing will lose $1 billion of Air Force launch business.

The Air Force announced today that it has determined that The Boeing Company has committed serious violations of federal law based on its review into allegations of wrongdoing by Boeing during the 1998 Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) source selection. As a result, the Air Force will suspend three Boeing Integrated Defense System business units and three former Boeing employees from eligibility for new government contracts. The suspensions are issued against The Boeing Company’s Launch Systems, Boeing Launch Services and Delta Program business units as they existed in the Boeing organizational structure as of July 21, 2003. This suspension will apply to these business units regardless of where they fall in any Boeing reorganization.

The individuals suspended are William David Erskine, former ground operations lead on Boeing’s EELV program; Kenneth V. Branch, former senior engineer/scientist on Boeing’s EELV program; and Larry Dean Satchell, a former member of Boeing’s EELV proposal team.

In addition, the Air Force will notify Boeing of its intent to reallocate launches under its existing EELV contract, which was awarded in October 1998 and is known as Buy I. Under this reallocation the Air Force will reduce the total number of Boeing Buy I Delta IV launches from 19 to 12. The Air Force will increase the total number of Lockheed Martin Buy I Atlas V launches from 7 to 14.

Further, the Air Force will permit Lockheed Martin to develop a west coast launch capability at Vandenberg AFB by upgrading an existing launch facility.

The Air Force also announced the results of its EELV Buy II decision. The Air Force disqualified Boeing from the award of three Buy II launches and plans to award Lockheed Martin three Buy II launches from Vandenberg AFB.

“Our inquiry into Boeing found that they were in possession of thousands of pages of Lockheed Martin proprietary EELV documents during the 1998 source selection,” said Under Secretary of the Air Force Peter B. Teets. “As a matter of policy we do not tolerate breaches of procurement integrity and we hold industry accountable for the actions of their employees. We believe the suspension is necessary and we hope all contractors will take note and strive to enforce the highest integrity standards in their organizations.”

The Boeing Delta IV and Lockheed Martin’s Atlas V are the two families of EELVs developed with the Air Force to modernize and reduce the cost of the nation’s spacelift operation while providing the United States with assured access to space.

Original Source: Air Force News Release

Atlas V Launches Rainbow 1

Image credit: ILS

An Atlas V rocket lifted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on Thursday carrying the Rainbow 1 direct-to-home broadcast satellite into orbit. The rocket lifted off at 2345 GMT (7:45pm EDT) and the satellite separated from the Centaur upper stage one hour and 40 minutes later. The launch was delayed 25 minutes because of weather and technical problems. This is the 66th successful flight for the Atlas line of rockets.

International Launch Services (ILS) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) successfully launched the Rainbow 1 satellite today ? the third flight for the Atlas V vehicle since the rocket debuted last summer.

This mission, designated AV-003, also marked the 66th consecutive successful flight for the Atlas rocket family, built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. of Denver, Colo. The satellite is an A2100 model, built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems of Newtown, Pa. Cablevision?s RLDBS project will use the high-powered satellite to introduce its Rainbow direct-to-home broadcast services to the contiguous United States.

Liftoff was at 7:45 p.m., with separation of the satellite occurring 1 hour and 40 minutes later. The Atlas V rocket was flown in its ?521? configuration, meaning it was fitted with a 5-meter-diameter fairing and two solid rocket motors. The larger fairing was chosen to accommodate the satellite?s sophisticated antenna array.

The Atlas V?s Centaur upper stage vehicle released the satellite into a nearly perfect transfer orbit. The apogee, or high point, was 35,843 km (target was 35,845 km); perigee, or low point, was on target at 3,790 km; and inclination was also right on target at 17.54 degrees.

?With another successful Atlas flight, we continue to demonstrate the reliability that our commercial and government customers have come to expect from ILS,? said Mark Albrecht, president of ILS. ?We?re honored that Cablevision chose the Lockheed Martin team to build a great satellite and launch it on a great rocket.??

This was the fourth mission and fourth success of the year for ILS, of McLean, Va., a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and two Russian companies. ILS markets and manages the missions for the Atlas and the Russian-built Proton and Angara launch vehicles.

?Today?s launch is an excellent example of the synergies inherent in Lockheed Martin?s businesses,? said Ted Gavrilis, president of Lockheed Martin Commercial Space, which arranged for the launch as a delivery-in-orbit mission. ?Our A2100 satellite and the ILS-provided Atlas V make a powerful combination for mission success, and we are proud to be part of launching a new direct-to-home service for Cablevision.?

ILS was formed in 1995 to provide launch services to customers worldwide, including technical, management and marketing expertise. Lockheed Martin?s partners in the venture are Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia. ILS offers the broadest range of launch services in the world along with the highest reliability in the industry. For more information, visit

Original Source: ILS News Release

Eurockot Launches Nine Satellites

Image credit: Eurockot

A Russian Rockot booster successfully launched nine microsatellites into different orbits on Monday. The Rockot, a converted RS-18 intercontinental ballistic missile, lifted off from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in Northern Russia and reached orbit 10 minutes later. The largest satellite on board the booster was a mockup of the Monitor E, a Russian remote sensing satellite. It also carried the 60 kg Canadian-built MOST space observatory, designed to measure minute fluctuations in the brightness of stars, as well as microsatellites built at various universities around the world.

Eurockot Launch Services GmbH successfully launched the Multiple Orbit Mission into different orbits today at 14:15 GMT using the ROCKOT launch system from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Northern Russia. The multiple payload consisted of 8 micro- and nano-satellites for scientific purposes as well as a satellite simulator. This launch is Eurockot`s first sun-synchronous mission.

The ROCKOT launch vehicle successfully deployed the Czech republic`s MIMOSA spacecraft into an elliptical orbit of 820 x 320 km and the Canadian Space Agency`s MOST spacecraft, together with a host of nano-satellites, including the Japanese Cubesat and CUTE-1, the Canadian Can X-1, the Danish AAU Cubesat and DTUsat, the US Quakesat, into a sun-synchronous orbit of 820 km. Next to demonstrating the multiple orbit deployment capability of its Breeze upper stage, this launch was also Eurockot`s first sun-synchronous mission. The ninth payload of this mission, a mass frequency simulator of the Russian MONITOR satellite, intentionally remained on Breeze and will burn up during deorbiting.

Like most of its co-passengers, MIMOSA will perform a scientific mission. The Czech Astronomical Institute will use it to measure the density of the earth’s upper atmosphere. MOST will carry Canada`s first space telescope and will probe the age of planets and stars for the Canadian Space Agency. The Japan spacecraft Cubesat Xl and CUTE-1 are educational nano-satellites of the University of Tokyo and the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

The main purposes of CanX-1, AAU Cubesat and DTUsat is star-imaging. They will be operated for the University of Toronto, Aalborg University and the Danish Technical University respectively. Quake-sat`s mission will be the detection of earthquakes for the Quake-Finder Institute.

With the Mutiple Orbit Mission (MOM), Eurockot demonstrated the unique capability of its Breeze upper stage: multiple reignitions allow it to be precisely positioned into different orbits and release several spacecraft successively.

Eurockot`s next launch will be performed in October 2003 for the Japanese Institute for Unmanned Space Experiment Free Flyer (USEF) by deploying its SERVIS-1 spacecraft into a sun-synchronous orbit of 1000 km altitude. Eurockot Launch Services GmbH is the joint venture of EADS SPACE Transportation (51%) and Khrunichev Space Centre (49%) and performs launch services for operators of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites using the flight-proven Rockot launch vehicle. Future launches in 2004 comprise ESA`s CRYOSAT and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute`s KOMPSAT-2 missions.

Original Source: Eurocket News Release

Pegasus Rocket Launches Imaging Satellite

Image credit: Orbital Sciences

Orbital Sciences Pegasus rocket carried an Orbview-3 satellite into orbit Thursday. The Pegasus is different from most rockets because it’s carried underneath the wing of an aircraft and then launched from the air. The Pegasus detached from its L-1011 carrier aircraft and then placed the Orbview-3 high-resolution imaging satellite into a parking orbit 10 minutes later.

Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) announced that earlier today, it successfully launched the company-built OrbView-3 high-resolution imaging satellite into its targeted orbit aboard the company’s Pegasus? rocket. The OrbView-3 satellite was accurately delivered into an initial “parking” orbit and, over the next several weeks, Orbital engineers will command the satellite to use its onboard propulsion system to reach its final circular operational orbit of 470 kilometers above the Earth, inclined at 97 degrees to the equator. Orbital designed, developed, built and tested the 304-kilogram OrbView-3 satellite for Orbital Imaging Corporation (ORBIMAGE) at the company’s Dulles, Virginia satellite manufacturing facility.

The powered flight sequence for the OrbView-3 mission took about 10 minutes, from the time the Pegasus rocket was released from its L-1011 carrier aircraft at approximately 2:55 p.m. (EDT) to the time that the satellite was deployed into orbit. Preliminary information indicates that the OrbView-3 satellite is working as planned in the early stages of its mission.

“We are very pleased with the results of the Pegasus launch and with the early indications that the OrbView-3 satellite is operating as expected,” said Mr. David W. Thompson, Orbital’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “We look forward to delivering a highly-capable satellite that will allow ORBIMAGE to provide its customers with world-class imagery products.”

Orbital develops and manufactures small space systems for commercial, civil government and military customers. The company’s primary products are spacecraft and launch vehicles, including low-orbit, geostationary and planetary satellites for communications, remote sensing and scientific missions; ground- and air-launched rockets that deliver satellites into orbit; and missile defense boosters that are used as interceptor and target vehicles. Orbital also offers space-related technical services to government agencies and develops and builds satellite-based transportation management systems for public transit agencies and private vehicle fleet operators.

Original Source: Orbital News Release

Ariane 5 Launches Two Satellites

Image credit: Arianespace

An Ariane 5 rocket successfully launched two geostationary communications satellites Wednesday evening after an hour’s delays because of poor weather. The Ariane 5G lifted off at 2238 GMT (6:38 pm EDT) and the two satellites separated 35 minutes later. The first satellite is the Australian commercial/military Optus and Defence C1 communications satellite which will provide coverage for the Asia Pacific region. The other is the Japanese BSAT-2c which will provide satellite television services throughout Japan.

Kourou, French Guiana, June 11, 2003 – Arianespace today orbited two geostationary communications satellites: Optus and Defence C1 for the Australian operator Optus and the Australian Department of Defence, and BSAT-2c for the Broadcasting Satellite System Corporation (B-SAT) of Japan under terms of a turnkey contract with Orbital Sciences Corporation of the United States.

Twelfth successful launch
With its 12th successful mission, the Ariane 5 Generic launcher confirmed its technical and operational maturity.

This latest success comes two months after the previous Ariane 5 flight — which also orbited a dual-satellite payload, and less than 10 days after Starsem’s successful Soyuz commercial mission with the European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft.

Several days prior to launch, a ministerial-level ESA Council meeting authorized the Ariane 5 support plan and approved construction of a Soyuz launch pad at the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport. These decisions give Arianespace the means to operate a full range of launch vehicles that respond to all client requirements.

Prestigious customers: Australia, Japan and the United States
The choice of Ariane by major space telecom manufacturers and operators in the United States, Japan and Australia clearly reflects international recognition of Arianespace’s top-flight launch service.

Optus and Defence C1 is the second Australian satellite to be launched by Ariane. In September 1987, Ariane orbited the Aussat K3 satellite, while Singtel — the parent company of operator Optus — had its ST-1 spacecraft launch by Ariane in 1998.

BSAT-2c is the 19 satellite launched by Ariane for Japan, and the fifth for telecom operator B-SAT — following BSAT-1a on Flight 95, BSAT-1b on Flight 108, and BSAT-2a and BSAT-2b on Flights 140 and 142. BSAT-2C is the fifth satellite built by Orbital Sciences Corporation to be launched by Arianespace using an Ariane 5 since March 2001.

Flight 161 at a glance
Flight 161 was carried out by an Ariane 5 Generic launcher from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Liftoff was on Wednesday, June 11, 2003 at 7:38 p.m. local time in Kourou (22H38 GMT, 6:38 p.m. in Washington, D.C., 12:38 am in Paris on June 12, and at 7:38 am in Tokyo and 8:38 am in Sydney on June 12).

Provisional parameters at injection of the storable propellant upper stage were:
Perigee: 590 km for a target of 590 km (?3 km)
Apogee: 35,798 km for a target of 35,826 km (?160 km)
Inclination: 7.00 degrees for a target of 6.99 degrees (?0.06?)

Optus and Defence C1: Mitsubishi Electric Corporation of Japan is the prime contractor, and is responsible for all communications systems. Space Systems Loral of the United States designed, assembled and integrated the bus and satellite system.

Weighing about 4,725 kg at liftoff, it will be positioned at 156 degrees East. Equipped with 24 Ku-band transponders, it will provide commercial communications services for Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and Hawaii. It also carries 4 X-band transponders, 4 Ku-band transponders and 6 UHF channels to provide dedicated links for the Australian Department of Defence.

Built by Orbital Sciences Corporation in Dulles, Virginia using the Star-1 platform, BSAT-2c weighed 1,275 kg at liftoff. It will be positioned at 110 degrees East. Equipped with 4 Ku-band transponders, it will provide direct TV broadcast services throughout Japan over its design life of 10 years. Over 16 million households receive programs broadcast by the B-SAT satellite.

Original Source: Arianespace News Release

Sea Launch Lofts Thuraya-2

Image credit: Sea Launch

Sea Launch completed its eighth successful mission Tuesday morning with the launch of the Boeing-built Thuraya-2 satellite on board a Zenit-3SL rocket. Liftoff occurred at 1355 GMT (9:56 am EDT), and the satellite separated from the Block DM upper stage 90 minutes later. Thuraya will provide data, broadcast and telecommunication services to Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. This was the first mission from Sea Launch in nearly a year, but the company expects another three launches this year.

Thuraya-2, the second satellite built by Boeing [NYSE:BA] for Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Company of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, rocketed to geosynchronous transfer orbit today aboard a Zenit-3SL provided by Sea Launch Company, LLC.

The Boeing GEO-Mobile model satellite lifted off at 6:56 a.m. PDT (13:56 GMT) from the Odyssey Launch Platform positioned on the equator in the Pacific Ocean. The spacecraft separated from the launch vehicle approximately one hour and 40 minutes after the launch, and minutes later its first signals were received at a Telemetry, Tracking and Control Station at Uralla, Australia, confirming normal operation.

?The newest light in the heavens is Thuraya-2, a mobile communications satellite that will help connect users on the move within a vast area of the globe,? said Dave Ryan, president of spacecraft builder Boeing Satellite Systems International. ?A thorough check-out on orbit lies ahead for the satellite, and we are confident that it will soon take its place as a vital long-term asset supporting Thuraya?s future growth.?

Built in El Segundo, Calif., Thuraya-2 is designed to operate for 12 years at the 44 degrees East longitude orbital slot. The satellite will add capacity to the Thuraya network, which provides mobile voice and data communication services to a region of more than 100 countries in Europe, the Middle East, North and Central Africa, and Central and South Asia.

The Boeing Company is the world’s leading aerospace company, with its heritage mirroring the history of flight. It is the largest manufacturer of satellites, commercial jetliners and military aircraft. The company is also a global market leader in missile defense, human space flight and launch services.

Original Source: Boeing News Release

Proton Launches AMC-9 Satellite

Image credit: ILS

A Russian-built Proton K rocket successfully launched the AMC-9 satellite on Saturday, completing the 300th launch of this rocket design over the course of 38 years. The Proton lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 2215 GMT (6:15pm EDT), and the satellite separated from the Breeze M upper stage nearly nine hours later. The AMC-9 will provide digital television, data, and telecommunications services.

A Proton rocket successfully placed the AMC-9 satellite into orbit this morning for Alcatel Space and SES AMERICOM. The launch was conducted by the U.S.-Russian joint venture International Launch Services (ILS).

This marks the 300th flight of a Proton vehicle, including 38 years of Russian federal missions and seven years with commercial flights under the auspices of ILS. Today?s mission was the first Proton rocket launch of the year for ILS.

The vehicle used today was Proton vehicle with a Breeze M upper stage, which lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 4:15 a.m. local time (22:15 June 6 GMT, 6:15 p.m. June 6 EDT). After 8 hours and 55 minutes, the AMC-9 satellite was separated from the Breeze M and placed into geostationary transfer orbit. Satellite builder Alcatel Space of Cannes, France, contracted for the launch as a delivery-in-orbit mission.

?Once again, Proton demonstrated that it is one of the most reliable vehicles in the world,? ILS President Mark Albrecht said. ?It?s a pleasure to provide both Alcatel Space and SES AMERICOM with another excellent launch.?

?I am delighted about the launch of AMC-9, a satellite that is important to our plans for growth of the AMC fleet,? said Dean Olmstead, president and CEO of SES AMERICOM. ?I extend warm congratulations to the entire team on the occasion of this picture-perfect launch and achieving the great 300th Proton mission milestone.?

This also was ILS? 14th launch of a satellite for a member of the SES GLOBAL family of companies ? SES AMERICOM and its predecessor GE AMERICOM, SES ASTRA and AsiaSat. In addition, ILS is scheduled to launch three more AMC satellites on either Proton or Atlas rockets in the 2003-04 time frame, and has recently acquired a fourth, not yet identified AMC mission.

This also is the eighth Alcatel Space-built satellite launched by ILS. AMC-9 is a Spacebus 3000B3 model with 48 transponders. It will enable SES AMERICOM, an SES GLOBAL company, to expand its digital television broadcasting, data transmission and telecommunication service offerings to North America.

ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE:LMT) in the United States, which builds the Atlas rocket; and Russian companies Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia. Khrunichev produces the Proton vehicles and the Breeze M upper stage.

ILS was formed in 1995 to provide launch services to customers worldwide, including technical, management and marketing expertise. It offers the broadest range of launch services in the world along with the highest reliability in the industry.

Original Source: ILS News Release

Europe Approves Global Navigation System

Image credit: ESA

The governments of the European Union gave their final approval for the launch of the new Galileo satellite navigation system, similar to the US-built Global Positioning System. The $3.6 billion system has had several delays to this point, but now the 30-satellite network is scheduled for completion by 2008. Consensus was reached at a meeting on Monday in Paris with the members of the European Space Agency.

The European Space Agency is now able to finalise the conditions for participation in the Galileo navigation programme and to approve the Galileo Joint Undertaking foundation act to be soon signed by ESA and the European Union.

The agreement reached among ESA member states today clears the way for the official launch of the legal entity which will have the task of coordinating ESA and EU involvement in Galileo, the European initiative to develop a global satellite navigation system.

“This is a great day for Europe in general and its space community in particular. Conscious of the economic, industrial and strategic importance of satellite navigation, our Member States have reached agreement in the common interest. We are now able to continue with Galileo, a major programme from which all citizens will benefit. Galileo is definitely a reality”, said Antonio Rodot?, ESA Director General at the end of the Council Meeting at Delegate level held in Paris today while informing German Minister of Education and Research, Mrs. Edelgard Bulmahn, Chairwoman of the ESA Council at Ministerial level to be held in Paris tomorrow.

?I am extremely delighted with this result. Galileo is now on its way . I am grateful to all ESA Member States that have striven to find a balanced solution and pleased that Europe has once again proven to be able to remain at the forefront of high level technology for a programme useful to each of us in our everyday life? said Mrs. Bulmahn when she heard the good news.

The Galileo Joint Undertaking, to be headquartered in Brussels, has a key part to play in implementing the various phases of the programme. This unique organisational structure will pave the way for the entity that will in due course operate the Galileo system. It will be responsible for the Galileo development and validation phase and also for preparations for system deployment and operations.

The founding members of the Galileo Joint Undertaking are the European Space Agency and the European Union, represented by the European Commission.

Galileo will complement the existing satellite navigation system, which presently relies entirely on GPS, the American Global Positioning System. Developed by ESA and the EU on the basis of equal co-funding, Galileo is designed to provide a complete civil system. Scheduled to be operational by 2008, it will offer the citizens of Europe and the world an accurate and secure satellite positioning capability.

A broad range of applications will be supported by the system : control of road, rail and sea traffic, synchronised data transmission between computers, and many others. Projections point to very significant economic benefits, with a return on investment of 4.6 and creation of over 140 000 jobs.

Galileo is the first instance of a project carried out jointly by the European Space Agency and the European Union.

The Galileo system will be built around 30 satellites (27 operational and 3 reserve craft) occupying three circular earth orbits, inclined at 56? to the Equator, at an altitude of 23 616 km. This configuration will provide excellent coverage of the planet. Two Galileo control centres will be established in Europe to control satellite operations and manage the navigation system.

Original Source: ESA News Release