A Soyuz launcher takes off from French Guiana with two new satellites of the European Galileo constellation

Once these two new pieces of equipment are put into orbit, they will raise the number of satellites in the constellation to 28 out of 30 ultimate targets.

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The Soyuz VS26 launcher was launched from the Guyanese Space Center (CSG) on Saturday 4 December with two satellites of the European Galileo navigation system. Once launched, you will have access to 28 components of this constellation, capable of giving positions on the order of a meter. The shooting window was used despite the heavy rain that has been raining down on Guyana for several days. Originally scheduled to take place on December 1, the shooting was postponed twice due to meteorological reasons and once due to Unavailability of a telemetry station.

After passing through the atmosphere, the launch rheometer is ejected.  (Pierre Carrell)

Of the Galileo satellites already in existence, 14 were flown by a Russian launcher between 2011 and 2016 and 12 were carried by Ariane 5 between 2016 and 2018. Ultimately, the constellation will include 30 satellites and will cost about eight billion euros. Starting in 2024, a new generation of Galileo satellites will be launched to continue to compete with the US GPS system, particularly in matters of strategic sovereignty.

This shot is also full of symbolism since 2021, the 10th anniversary of Soyuz’s presence in Guyana. Since 2011, the year of the first launch, 26 launchers of this type took off from Sinamare, a town near Kourou, where the launch pad intended for Soyuz was installed. The mission, implemented by the European Space Agency (ESA) on behalf of the European Commission, is the penultimate mission carried out by the CSG for 2021. On December 22, an Ariane 5 rocket will carry the James Webb Telescope into the cosmos, from where it will provide scientists with information on the formation of the universe.

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