Spaceflight Insider

Launch of ESA’s Galileo delayed by 24 hours

Photo Credit: Arianespace / ESA

The launch of two European navigational satellites destined to be the first operational components in the Galileo fleet has been delayed by 24 hours. The Soyuz ST-B booster had been slated to launch on Thursday, Aug. 21 at 1231 GMT (8:31 a.m. EDT; 9:31 a.m. local time) from the launch site at the Guiana Space Center. Launch is now slated to occur, no-earlier-than 1227 GMT (8:27 a.m. EDT; 9:27 a.m. local time). 

The reason behind this delay is one all-too familiar to Launch Service Providers – weather. Poor weather conditions in and around the jungles of Kourou caused mission planners to scrub the launch attempt and rest for the following day.

The Soyuz booster and its cargo of the Doresa and Milena Galileo spacecraft took the 2,300 foot (700 meter) journey out to the launch pad on Monday, Aug. 18. The venerable booster will send the duo into an orbit some 14,429 miles (23,222 km) miles above the Earth.

With its digital control system, this version of Soyuz is far removed from its ancestors. The Soyuz 2-1b or Soyuz ST-B has a ST-type payload fairing (hence the latter part of its nomenclature) which measures some 13.4 feet (4 meters). The booster also employs a more-modern RD-0124 rocket engine in its third stage.

European aerospace firm, Arianespace manages and launches the Soyuz ST-B from the spaceport at French Guiana. As noted, this launch will see two of a planned 30 satellites sent to orbit under the Galileo constellation (27 operational spacecraft and three spares). This fleet of spacecraft are meant to serve the same purpose as the U.S. GPS and Russian GLONASS systems. Unlike either of its predecessors however, Galileo will be a civilian, rather than military-based operation.


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Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

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