29 Aug '14, 8pm

Two Galileo Satellites Are Parked In the Wrong Spots

Two Galileo Satellites Are Parked In the Wrong Spots

On 22 August, a Soyuz rocket launched the fifth and sixth satellites of Europe's Galileo project, a satellite navigation system that will eventually comprise 30 satellites designed to make Europe independent of U.S., Russian, and other GPS systems. Unlike most Soyuz launches, the rocket did not lift off from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, but from Kourou, Europe's space center in French Guiana. Apparently the launch went off without incident, but it soon became apparent that the two satellites were injected into the wrong orbits. The upper stage of the Soyuz rocket, the Fregat-MT, injected them into elliptical orbits instead of circular ones, making the satellites unusable for GPS navigation. Initially, blame fell on the Fregat-MT’s outdated navigation system, or on the possibility that its engine malfunctioned. Kourou ground crews dealing with an unfamiliar launcher was also viewe...

Full article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/aerospace/satellites/t...

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