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Rocket launch tonight! Arianespace Soyuz to launches 2 Galileo satellites

Update: Arianespace has successfully launched the Soyuz rocket carrying 2 Galileo satellites into a transition orbit. It will take just under four hours to deploy the two satellites in their final orbit. 

Read our full story on the launch here.

Arianespace is now targeting the launch of a Soyuz rocket carrying two new Galileo navigation satellites for Saturday night, Dec. 4, and you can watch it live, courtesy of Arianespace. Liftoff is set for 7:19 p.m. EST (0019 GMT on Dec. 3)

The launch has been delayed repeatedly this week due to bad weather and launch equipment availability. A Friday, Dec. 3, launch attempt was scrubbed due to lightning risks.

The Russian-built Soyuz rocket will launch the two Galileo FOC-M9 (23-24) satellites into orbit from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. They will mark the 27th and 28th Galileo navigation system satellites to launch for Europe since the 2011. Fourteen of those satellites were launched on Soyuz rockets, while the rest were flown on Arianespace's Ariane 5 rockets.

Arianespace initially hoped to launch the Galileo satellites earlier this week, but delayed the flight due to bad weather. The launch webcast should begin about 20 minutes before liftoff.

From Arianespace:

Mission Description

Arianespace’s 13th launch of 2021 with the 8th Soyuz of the year will place its satellite passengers into medium Earth orbit. The launcher will be carrying a total payload of approximately 1645 kg. The launch will be performed from Kourou, in French Guyana.

Payload Overview

Arianespace will orbit two more satellites, Galileo FOC-M9 (23-24), SAT 27-28, bringing the Galileo constellation fleet to 28 satellites after the launch. This mission will be performed for the benefit of the European Space Agency (ESA) acting on behalf of the European Commission.

Galileo is the European global satellite navigation system, operational since 2016. It is the sole satellite navigation system operated under civilian control. It offers high-precision positioning, navigation and timing services to more than 2,3 billion users worldwide. By offering dual frequencies as standard, Galileo is set to deliver real-time positioning accuracy down to the meter range. Being the largest European Union (EU) infrastructure initiative, Galileo is bringing strategic autonomy and sovereignty to the EU citizens and its Member States. Funded and fully owned by the European Union, designed by ESA and operated by the EU agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA), it features innovative technologies developed by European industry for the benefit of all citizens.

The Galileo satellites are built by prime contractor OHB System, with the payloads supplied by UK-based Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), which is 99% owned by Airbus Defence and Space.

Out of 26 Galileo satellites already in orbit, 14 have been launched by Soyuz (produced by Progress Space Rocket Center, part of Roscosmos) between 2011 and 2016; and 12 by Ariane 5 between 2016 and 2018. VS26 will raise Galileo’s total fleet to 28 satellites and it continues with tomorrow’s flights onboard Soyuz and Ariane 62 to complete the first-generation deployment, starting with six additional Galileo FOC satellites, over the next years.

Galileo FOC-M9 will be the 61st mission (83rd and 84th satellites) to be launched by Arianespace for ESA.

Galileo FOC-M9 will be the 23rd and 24th FOC satellites to be launched by Arianespace for the European Commission.

Thanks to Galileo FOC-M9, Arianespace has launched 150 missions (180 satellites) for European institutions.

OHB, prime contractor of Galileo, is a reliant partner of Arianespace: Galileo FOC-M9 will be the 26th and 27th OHB satellites launched by Arianespace.

Rocket launch on Sunday: Atlas V launching STP-3

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch the Space Test Program 3 mission for the U.S. military and NASA early Monday, Dec. 6, and you can watch it live. Liftoff is at 4:04 a.m. EST (0904 GMT). The launch was delayed one day due to a leak in a ground propellant system for the rocket's RP-1 fuel.

The Atlas V rocket will launch the STP-3 mission for the U.S. Space Force from Space Launch Complex 41 of the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The mission's primary satellite is the STP Satellite 6, or STP-6, which carries several different experiments, including the Space and Atmospheric Burst Reporting System 3, an operational payload designed to track nuclear detonation detection system, NASA’s Laser Communication Relay Demonstration for space communications technology and other space weather and situational awareness payloads. 

STP-3 is also carrying the Long Duration Propulsive Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Seconday Payload Adapter, or LDPE-1, a platform carrying several experiments that is designed to remain in orbit for up to 3 years. 

A United Launch Alliance rocket carrying the STP-3 mission for the U.S. military, including a NASA laser space communications experiment, stands atop its pad at Space Launch Copmlex 41 of the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida for a Dec. 5, 2021 launch.

A United Launch Alliance rocket carrying the STP-3 mission for the U.S. military, including a NASA laser space communications  experiment, stands atop its pad at Space Launch Copmlex 41 of the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida for a Dec. 5, 2021 launch.  (Image credit: United Launch Alliance)

From United Launch Alliance:

Mission Overview

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 551 rocket will launch the Space Test Program-3 (STP-3) mission for the U.S. Space Force’s (USSF) Space Systems Command (SSC). STP-3 is a co-manifested mission that matures technology and reduces future space program risk for the Department of the Air Force and the U.S. Space Force by advancing warfighting capabilities in the areas of nuclear detonation detection, space domain awareness (SDA), weather, and communication. Both spacecraft will be delivered to geosynchronous orbit. Liftoff will occur from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.

The primary spacecraft is STP Satellite (STPSat)-6 and the rideshare spacecraft is the Long Duration Propulsive Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA) (LDPE) - 1. Both spacecraft were built by Northrop Grumman. The STPSat-6 payloads including the Space and Atmospheric Burst Reporting System 3 (SABRS-3), an operational mission from the National Nuclear Security Administration, NASA’s Laser Communication Relay Demonstration (LCRD) payload to test technologies for the next generation of data relay satellites, and several Department of Defense Space Experiments Review Board space weather and situational awareness payloads. LDPE-1 is designed for a 1-3 year mission life and carries experimental payloads. The experiments are intended for rapid risk reduction efforts to inform future programs.

The STP-3 mission debuts three engineering features designed to reduce risk and accumulate flight experience before use on the Vulcan Centaur, these include Out-of-Autoclave (OoA) payload fairings, an in-flight power system and GPS enhanced navigation.

The OoA payload fairing was developed with a new manufacturing method, an alternative process to cure carbon fiber composites, which allows for a more efficient production process, lower cost and lower system mass while maintaining the same level of reliability and quality.

The Atlas V is also equipped with a new In-Flight Power System (IFPS). This system supplies power to the satellites’ batteries during the rocket’s long duration ascent, a mission more than seven hours. The IFPS will ensure the spacecraft have fully charged batteries when deployed into geosynchronous orbit.

GPS Enhanced Navigation is an additional first flight item that utilizes existing flight computer hardware to provide GPS signals that improve the Centaur‘s navigation system performance, allowing the Centaur to achieve even more accurate orbits.

'ISS Live!' Tune in to the space station

Find out what the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station are up to by tuning in to the "ISS Live" broadcast. Hear conversations between the crew and mission controllers on Earth and watch them work inside the U.S. segment of the orbiting laboratory. When the crew is off duty, you can enjoy live views of Earth from Space. You can watch and listen in the window below, courtesy of NASA.

From NASA:

"Live video from the International Space Station includes internal views when the crew is on-duty and Earth views at other times. The video is accompanied by audio of conversations between the crew and Mission Control. This video is only available when the space station is in contact with the ground. During 'loss of signal' periods, viewers will see a blue screen.

"Since the station orbits the Earth once every 90 minutes, it experiences a sunrise or a sunset about every 45 minutes. When the station is in darkness, external camera video may appear black, but can sometimes provide spectacular views of lightning or city lights below." 

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Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: Staff is the premier source of space exploration, innovation and astronomy news, chronicling (and celebrating) humanity's ongoing expansion across the final frontier. Originally founded in 1999, is, and always has been, the passion of writers and editors who are space fans and also trained journalists. Our current news team consists of Editor-in-Chief Tariq Malik; Editor Hanneke Weitering, Senior Space Writer Mike Wall; Senior Writer Meghan Bartels; Senior Writer Chelsea Gohd, Senior Writer Tereza Pultarova and Staff Writer Alexander Cox, focusing on e-commerce. Senior Producer Steve Spaleta oversees our space videos, with Diana Whitcroft as our Social Media Editor. 

  • The Exoplanets Channel
    It will be exciting!
  • rod
    The Exoplanets Channel said:
    It will be exciting!

    It could also be more issues for stargazing too :)
  • Postman1
    rod said:
    It could also be more issues for stargazing too :)
    All the more reason to build telescopes on the far side of the Moon.
  • whatdoctor
    I have been watching space launches since 1969 and I still find them exciting.
  • Moondaya
    for sure

    Each progress about space was and will be exciting! I wish to see days when base set up on the moon.
  • jimmiy
  • Castacon79
    New here so I can get the world to see if they can do something
  • Erik
    rod said:
    It could also be more issues for stargazing too :)
    adapt, exceed....or die... When/if teleportation appears will anyone have any concern for travel agents, common carriers or taxi/uber drivers?
  • Dan41273
    I don't want to burst any bubbles, but the water is from earth shedding the vapor into space, and some of it collects on the moon, and throughout space......
  • Hughjer
    Annnnnd... aborted again. Maybe tomorrow folks.