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Europeanized Soyuz Delivered Galileo Satellites to Useless Orbit

Europeanized Soyuz Delivered Galileo Satellites to Useless Orbit

The Soyuz-Fregat was supposed to deliver the two Galileo satellites into a circular orbit 23,222 kilometers in altitude, inclined 56 degrees to the equator. Rough two-line elements produced by the U.S. surveillance network showed the satellites in an elliptical, not circular, orbit with an apogee of 25,922 kilometers and a perigee of 13,700 kilometers.
The Soyuz-Fregat was supposed to deliver the two Galileo satellites into a circular orbit 23,222 kilometers in altitude, inclined 56 degrees to the equator. Rough two-line elements produced by the U.S. surveillance network showed the satellites in an elliptical, not circular, orbit with an apogee of 25,922 kilometers and a perigee of 13,700 kilometers.

PONTE VEDRA, Florida  The Aug. 22 launch of the first two fully operational Galileo positioning, navigation and timing satellites, initially cheered as a success, will now be registered as a failure of the Europeanized Soyuz rocket’Fregat upper stage, which left the satellites in a useless orbit, government and industry officials said Aug. 23.

 

As of mid-afternoon Central European Time Aug. 23 – 24 hours after launch and 20 hours after the Fregat stage inserted the satellites into orbit – launch-service provider Arianespace and the European Space Agency said they were still investigating the injection anomaly and could not conclude what, if any, effect it would have on the two satellites’ functionality.


In what must be felt as a bitter irony in Europe, it was the U.S. Defense Department’s Space Surveillance Network -- which publishes initial orbital parameters, known as two-line elements, of recently launched satellites – that first disclosed the problem Aug. 22.


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August 25, 2014


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