Arianespace plans bid to launch Galileo satellites
The European commercial space-launch consortium Arianespace said Saturday it would make a bid to launch 26 satellites from French Guyana.28 April 2008
BAIKONUR - The European commercial space-launch consortium Arianespace said Saturday it would make a bid to launch 26 satellites from French Guyana to kickstart the European Union's Galileo satellite navigation programme.
The European Parliament on Wednesday signalled its green light for the deployment of Galileo, seen by space experts as a challenge to the US-administered GPS global positioning system.
"Arianespace is going to make an offer that corresponds to the needs of the European Space Agency," its chief executive Jean-Yves Le Gall to reporters, enabling the long-delayed Galileo system to be up and running by 2013.
To meet ESA requirements for two different launch systems, Le Gall said Arianespace would use both Ariane 5 and Soyuz rockets capable of carrying four and two satellites at a time respectively.
The first four of 30 operational Galileo satellites are to go into space in the first quarter of 2010, using the Russian-developed Soyuz rocket.
The second of two test launches was scheduled to take place in the early hours of Sunday from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The facility is the premier launch centre for Russia's space programme.
EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot said the European Commission and the European Space Agency would launch public tenders by the middle of this year, with a view to first contracts being signed before 2009.
The EUR 3.4-billion project would be divided into six segments - satellites, launchers, computer programmes, ground stations, control stations and system operation.
[AFP / Expatica]