On 24 May the Satellite “Danielė” was launched named after a Lithuanian girl
It will form part of the constellation system of the navigation satellite system “Galileo”.
Each of at least 27 planned satellites of the system will be named after the children from the EU countries.
They were selected after the children had won the European Commission’s drawing competition in their countries in 2011 on the topic of ‘Space and Aeronautics’.
The Galileo name first appeared in the Communication of the Commission from February 1999. Since then, the programme has been on its way towards full operational capacity. Fourteen satellites are already in orbit and a further 16 will be launched by 2020. The Financing Decisions for the programme were taken by the European Council in the early 2000s.
The two experimental satellites were launched in December 2005 and April 2008 respectively. Their purpose was to characterise the Medium-Earth Orbit (MEO) environment (radiation, magnetic field, etc.) and to test the performance of critical payload technology (atomic clocks and radiation hardened digital technology). They also provided an early experimental signal-in-space to secure the frequency spectrum required for Galileo in accordance with WRC RNSS allocations.
The first two operational satellites were launched on 21 October 2011, followed by the launch of the third and fourth operational satellites on the 12 October 2012. Their purpose is to fully validate the Galileo concept, using the four satellites together with the Galileo stations and control centers. The first independent European position fix was achieved with the Galileo system on 12 March 2013.
It is during the FOC phase that the Galileo network’s complete operational and ground infrastructure will be deployed. Soyuz mission – designated Flight VS15 – was Arianespace’s fifth overall carrying FOC spacecraft in sets of two. It follows one launch in 2014 (VS09), then three performed last year (VS11, VS12 and VS13).
The medium-lift workhorse also lofted a total of four satellites in the program’s IOV (In-Orbit Validation) phase in 2011 and 2012. The satellites orbited – named ‘Danielė’ and ‘Alizée’ after winners of a European Commission-organized painting competition for children – are the 13th and 14th Galileo spacecraft overall to be orbited by Arianespace.
They will soon join their ‘teammates’ in the constellation to provide Galileo’s initial services, marking another milestone in providing Europe with full autonomy in the field of global positioning, navigation and timing. At full capability, the Galileo program will provide a European-operated navigation system to deliver highly accurate global positioning services through a satellite constellation in medium-Earth orbit, along with its associated ground infrastructure.