Brussels requests Galileo satellite probe

The European Commission has requested Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA) to provide full details of the incident following the failure on August 22 to inject Galileo satellites 5 and 6 into the correct orbit, together with a schedule and an action plan to rectify the problem.

According to initial information from Arianespace, the problem involved the upper stage of the launcher, as a result of which the satellites were not injected into the required orbit.

The Commission said it is participating in the Board of Inquiry set up to identify the causes of the problem, which is expected to present preliminary results in the first half of September. This Board of Inquiry will aim to put in place corrective measures at the level of Arianespace to avoid such incidents being repeated with future launches.

ESA has informed the Commission that its Control Centre in Darmstadt (Germany) has the satellites under control, although they are not placed in their intended orbital position. The European Commission is working in close cooperation with the European Space Agency to maximise the possibilities to use the two satellites as part of the Galileo network.

The Commission has set up an internal Task Force to monitor the situation, working in close contact with ESA and Arianespace. Both ESA and Arianespace have been invited to Brussels to present the initial results of their inquiry to European commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship Ferdinando Nelli Feroci in the first week of September.

Commissioner Ferdinando Nelli Feroci, commented “The problem with the launch of the two Galileo satellites is very unfortunate. The European Commission will participate in an inquiry with ESA to understand the causes of the incident and to verify the extent to which the two satellites could be used for the Galileo programme. I remain convinced of the strategic importance of Galileo and I am confident that the deployment of the constellation of satellites will continue as planned.”

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