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Soyuz launches Galileo navigation satellites
Posted: Sat, Mar 28, 2015, 7:55 AM ET (1155 GMT)
Soyuz launch of Galileo satellites illus. (ESA) A Soyuz rocket successfully launched a pair of Galileo navigation satellites, the first launch of such spacecraft since two were placed in the wrong orbit last year. The Soyuz lifted off from French Guiana at 5:46 pm EDT (2146 GMT) Friday carrying the seventh and eighth operational Galileo satellites. The satellites separated from the Fregat upper stage nearly four hours after launch at their planned medium Earth orbit. The launch was the first for the Galileo program after a malfunction of the Fregat in an August 2014 launch placed two Galileo satellites into improper orbits. Those satellites have since been able to maneuver to the correct orbits, and the problem with the Fregat has been corrected. European officials hope to have an initial operating capability of 16 satellites in place by the end of 2016, with a full constellation of 30 satellites by 2020.
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