Four new satellites belonging to Galileo, the European satellite positioning and navigation programme, were successfully launched today from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The launch took place at 9.25 local time (19:36 CET) with an Ariane 5 ES launcher.

The orbiting operations of the 4 satellites will take 14 days and will be managed by the LEOP (Launch and Early Orbit Phase) Operation Control Centre of CNES in Toulouse.

The GSA, the European GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) Agency is responsible for the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) of this mission, overseeing Spaceopal - an equal joint venture between Telespazio and DLR-GfR - in their role as Galileo Service Operator and LEOP Mission Director. More specifically, Spaceopal will be directly involved in managing operations for the tenth mission (L10) planned in the Galileo Programme, providing 4 Mission Directors to the Mission Control Team.

With this launch, the number of in-orbit satellites in the Galileo System rises to 26.

Galileo is Europe’s own global navigation satellite system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control. Currently providing Initial Services, Galileo is interoperable with GPS and Glonass, the US and Russian global satellite navigation systems.

The Galileo System began Initial Services on 15 December 2016 and Spaceopal is actively supporting the completion of the system to expend the services up to full operational capability by 2020. More than 100 million devices are using Galileo today.

Companies belonging to the Leonardo Group play a leading role in the Galileo programme. Spaceopal is responsible for managing the entire Galileo satellite system and its performance: in particular, for the operations and control of the system, the network, its security, logistics and maintenance of the systems and infrastructure, the user support services.

Spaceopal carries out these activities through the two Galileo Control Centres in Fucino (in Italy) and Oberpfaffenhofen (at the DLR site near Munich), as well as the GNSS Service Centre (Madrid) and a network of sites and stations distributed around the globe and connected by the Galileo Data Dissemination network.

Telespazio is not only heavily involved in all the phases of the system's operational life span of Galileo through Spaceopal, but plays an industrial leading role in the development of the program. It has built, at the Fucino Space Centre, one of the Galileo Control Centres (GCC), which will manage the programme’s constellation and mission, and having developed and put in service the Galileo data dissemination network.

Telespazio also supports CNES and Arianespace in managing the Launch Centre in Guyana, as well as in operations for launching and placing satellites into orbit, through Telespazio France. Furthermore, through Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, the company has been the prime contractor for both the operational constellation simulator and the Assembly, Integration and Validation Platform (AIVP) for the ground mission segment. Within the current launch, the company has provided training services to the Flight Control Team, located at CNES, to prepare it for a large variety of manoeuvres during the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) of these four satellites.

Telespazio is also engaged in providing a wide range of applications based on Galileo and EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) in sectors such as civil aviation, rail transport, dangerous goods management and unmanned aircrafts control.

An important technological component in the satellites already in orbit, in those to be launched and those still under construction, has been developed by Leonardo: the IRES-N2 (Infrared Earth Sensor) attitude sensors used to control the satellites’ position, the innovative PHM (Passive Hydrogen Maser) hydrogen atomic clocks to mark the time and a receiver for the PRS service, designed for government entities and critical infrastructures with special security requirements.

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