GIOVE-A blasts off from BaikonurThe first test satellite for Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system is in its correct orbit and transmitting after its launch on 28 December, writes Rob Coppinger. The 600kg (1,320lb) Galileo In Orbit Validation Element (GIOVE)-A satellite, built by Guildford, UK-based Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL), was launched from Baikonur in Kazakhstan on a Starsem Soyuz booster with a Fregat upper stage. The four-stage booster placed the spacecraft in a medium Earth orbit of around 24,000km (14,900 miles) following three engine burns by the Fregat’s fourth stage.

“The telemetry from the satellite looks good. We are going through the telemetry channels to check the spacecraft’s systems,” SSTL chief executive Sir Martin Sweeting said after separation of the GIOVE-A from the Fregat stage on 28 December. GIOVE-A will be followed by GIOVE-B in April. It will also be launched by a Starsem Soyuz-Fregat.

Rob Coppinger reports on his unique experience getting to Kazakhstan for a satellite launch in Flight International's blogs.

Source: Flight International