PARIS — A Europeanized Russian Soyuz rocket on Dec. 17 successfully placed two European Galileo positioning, navigation and timing satellites into orbit, a launch expected to permit initial Galileo services by late 2016.
The launch, from Europe’s Guiana Space Center on the northeast coast of South America, inserted the 11th and 12th Galileo satellites into medium Earth orbit in the third Soyuz Galileo flight in 2015. It was the 12th launch overall by Europe’s Arianespace launch consortium, a record for the company, with three Soyuz launches, three Vega small-satellite missions and six heavy-lift Ariane 5 rocket campaigns.
Assuming the two latest Galileo satellites are without defect, there will be nine fully operational Galileo satellites by late 2016, enabling the European Commission — the executive arm of the 28-nation European Union — to debut service provision.
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