[Satnews] The two spacecraft for Arianespace’s latest Soyuz launch at the service of Europe’s Galileo satellite-based navigation system—and the company’s record 12th mission overall in 2015—have been integrated at the Spaceport in preparation for their December 17 liftoff from French Guiana.
During activity in the Spaceport’s S3B clean room facility, the spacecraft pair was mated with their dispenser, which will deploy the satellites by firing a pyrotechnic system for separation in opposite directions at the orbital insertion point.
The satellite/dispenser combination is ready for integration on Soyuz launcher’s Fregat upper stage, followed by the payload fairing encapsulation. This will create the “upper composite,” which is to be installed atop Soyuz once the vehicle has been moved to its Spaceport launch site.
Arianespace’s December 17 mission, designated Flight VS13 in the company’s launcher family numbering system, will orbit two Galileo FOC (Full Operational Capability) satellites, further augmenting the European constellation of navigation spacecraft. The satellites are built by prime contractor OHB System in Bremen, Germany, with their onboard payloads supplied by UK-based Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), which is 99 percent owned by Airbus Defence & Space.
The Galileo system is designed to provide high-quality positioning, navigation and timing services under civilian control. Its Full Operational Capability phase is managed and funded by the European Commission, with the European Space Agency (ESA) delegated as the design and procurement agent on the Commission’s behalf.
Flight VS13 will close out a busy year, complementing the 11 previous missions in 2015, which were composed of two other launches with the medium-lift Soyuz, three using the light-lift Vega and six with the heavy-lift Ariane 5.