Europe’s second test satellite for the Galileo navigation constellation has been placed in orbit by a Russian launch vehicle which lifted off from Kazakhstan yesterday.

Launched from the Baikonur facility at 04:16, on board a Soyuz-Fregat vehicle, the Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element satellite, GIOVE-B, features three precision clocks – including one based on a hydrogen maser, which will be the principal timing mechanism for Galileo.

GIOVE-B will be used to demonstrate Galileo technology and also continue work on the constellation’s radio frequencies initiated by its predecessor, GIOVE-A, which was launched in December 2005 and its nearing the end of its operational life.

“With the successful launch of GIOVE-B we are about to complete the demonstration phase for Galileo,” says European Space Agency director general Jean Jacques Dordain.


Four operational satellites, currently under construction, are the next in line to be launched and will be used to validate the space-based and ground-based infrastructure by 2010. Once this stage is completed the developers will proceed with deploying the full constellation which will feature 30 satellites.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news