Will have to wait for Galileo satellite launch without Soyuz – rts.ch

The sanctions in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine affect several European satellite launches planned for this year. The European Space Agency (ESA) announced the end of its cooperation with Russia last Thursday, meaning it no longer uses Russian Soyuz launchers to carry out its missions.

“The satellites currently in orbit are sufficient to operate the Galileo navigation system. It is in no hurry to launch others to compensate for the cancellation of the planned departure via Russian Soyuz rocket,” said Wednesday. OHB company manufacturing these satellites.

Two satellites built by the company OHB for the European group of Galileo localizations were to be carried aboard Soyuz launchers this year. These departures are cancelled, raising many questions about the need to look for another commercial partner to carry out these launches.

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10 satellites yet to be launched

“In Galileo’s case, nothing is planned yet”, OHB CEO Marco Fuchs assured during a press conference. But “there is no great urgency to go ahead with other launches to continue operating the constellation,” he said.

In other words, the 24 satellites already in orbit and all built by OHB over a decade are enough for the Galileo system to function properly. The SME of Bremen in Germany produced ten satellites of the constellation that are yet to be launched and which will make it possible to optimize the accuracy of the European navigation system.

These satellites were to be launched from the Kourou base in French Guiana on a Russian Soyuz launcher and later on the European Ariane 6 rocket, which is not yet ready for the first commercial flight.

Americans with “Possible Alternatives”

ESA, in the current context, is looking to launch a rapid ramp-up of Ariane 6. The boss of the OHB, who advises the ESA on its options, on Wednesday launched the American rocket Space X or the Indian GSLV.

“Space X is definitely the rocket everyone is talking about, mainly in Europe, because it’s our biggest competitor”, explained Marco Fuchs. At this stage, he does not believe “it is not possible to make a decision in the very short term” for an alternate launcher and possibly another launch base.

ESA can no longer rely on the Baikonur site in Kazakhstan, where the Soyuz rocket was launched. The London-based OneWeb satellite operator, which also had to suspend its planned Soyuz launch, announced Monday that it will restart its constellation using SpaceX’s services to continue its deployment.


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