The European Commission has becomes the first confirmed launch customer for Europe’s next-generation heavy launcher, which is due to launch four Galileo satellites in 2020/2021.
Arianespace will launch four new satellites for the Galileo constellation on two Ariane 6 launchers in Ariane 62 configuration. The European Commission thus becomes the first confirmed launch customer for the next-generation heavy launcher.
Stéphane Israël, Arianespace CEO, and Paul Verhoef, Director of Navigation at the European Space Agency (ESA), signed the launch contract on 14th September. The contract will be conducted by ESA on behalf of the European Commission (DG Growth).
These launches are planned between the end of 2020 and mid-2021, using two Ariane 62 launchers – the two-booster configuration best suited for the targeted orbit. The contract also provides for the possibility of using the Soyuz launch vehicle from the Guiana Space Center, if needed.
Both missions will carry a pair of Galileo spacecraft, each weighing approximately 750kg. The satellites, will be placed in medium earth orbit (MEO) at an altitude of 23,222km.
A total of 18 Galileo satellites already are in orbit. Fourteen of these satellites were launched two at a time by Soyuz launchers, with the last four orbited on a single Ariane 5 ES mission in November 2016. Two more Ariane 5 ES missions are planned on 12th December 2017 and in the summer of 2018.