Thursday

30th Jun 2022

EU to investigate Galileo launch failure

  • The satellites are in an elliptical orbit some 17,000 kilometers above the earth instead of a circular one at 23,000 km (Photo: Gesa Henselmans)

The European Commission has set up an inquiry into the failure to correctly launch the latest two satellites of its ill-fated Galileo space programme.

The two satellites, Doresa and Milena, were launched from French Guiana, aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket last Friday, and are the fifth and sixth of 30 satellites scheduled to be launched as part of the scheme.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • The EU's Galileo satellite navigation system faces its latest setback after two satellites were launched into the wrong orbit. (Photo: Wikipedia)

At the weekend the European Space Agency (ESA) informed the commission that its Control Centre in Darmstadt (Germany) has the satellites under control, but that they are not in their intended orbital position.

It said they are in an elliptical orbit some 17,000 kilometers above the earth instead of an intended circular one at 23,000 km.

In a statement released on Monday (25 August) the commission said that Arianespace, the French space transport company awarded the contract, and the European Space Agency (ESA) had been asked to provide a report on the incident, together with a schedule and a timeline to rectify the problem.

Arianespace and ESA are expected to report back to the EU executive in the first week of September, but in the meantime Arianespace refused to comment on whether it will be possible to put the satellites onto their correct orbit.

But commission sources have indicated that the satellites are now unlikely to be operational.

The commission is not in line for any compensation.

The incident is another setback for the EU’s space programme, which has so far cost taxpayers €6 billion and is expected to require a further €7 billion investment between now and 2020.

Industry commissioner Ferdinando Nelli Feroci said the errors were “very unfortunate”, but added that he is “convinced of the strategic importance of Galileo.”

“I am confident that the deployment of the constellation of satellites will continue as planned".

The Galileo programme is the EU’s bid to develop a global satellite navigation network to rival the US global positioning system (GPS).

EU governments want to be able to tap into the lucrative market for navigation satellite products and services such as street directions and navigation for drivers. The market was valued at €175 billion in 2013 and is expected to grow to €237 billion in 2020.

The EU programme has been dogged by repeated delays and over-spending, while some remain unconvinced there is a need to rival the GPS network.

Galileo contracts give boost to delayed project

The European Union's much-delayed satellite navigation system, Galileo, received an important boost on Thursday with the awarding of several key contracts to European companies.

EU rescue bid for Galileo faces difficulties

The 27-nation EU is entering the final phase of talks on how to finance the bloc's troubled satellite navigation system, Galileo, but member states remain split, while the European Parliament has flexed its muscles on the issue.

News in Brief

  1. New president for European Committee of the Regions
  2. Gas flows from Spain to Morocco, after Western Sahara row
  3. BioNTech, Pfizer test 'universal' coronavirus vaccine
  4. UK sanctions second-richest Russian businessman
  5. Hungary permits emergency supervision of energy firms
  6. Bulgaria expels 70 alleged Russian spies
  7. EU Commission told to improve CAP data analytics
  8. Scotland pushes for second independence vote in 2023

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  2. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  4. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBHow price increases affect construction workers
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic think tank examines influence of tech giants

Latest News

  1. Nato expands and reinforces on Russian flank
  2. EU Commission says it cannot find messages with Pfizer CEO
  3. EU ministers sign off on climate laws amid German infighting
  4. EU presidency still looking for asylum relocation pledges
  5. Finland and Sweden to join Nato, as Erdoğan drops veto
  6. The euro — who's next?
  7. One rubicon after another
  8. Green crime-fighting boss urgently required, key MEP says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us