SpaceX has signed a contract to loft up to 4 of Europe’s Galileo navigation satellites over two launches in 2024, in accordance to The Wall Road Journal.
The deal, which Elon Musk‘s firm inked not too long ago with the European Space Agency, requires the Galileo satellites to launch atop Falcon 9 rockets from U.S. soil, The Journal reported on Monday (Oct. 23), citing Javier Benedicto, ESA’s director of navigation. (The story is behind a paywall.)
“The European Fee, the European Union’s govt arm, together with EU member states, should nonetheless give last approval for the deal,” The Journal wrote. “That’s seemingly to occur earlier than the tip of the yr, officers stated.”
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Galileo is Europe’s equal of the USA’ Global Positioning System (GPS), China’s Beidou or Russia’s GLONASS — an orbiting community that enables customers to know precisely the place they’re and helps them determine the place they are going.
The Galileo satellites orbit Earth at an altitude of 14,429 miles (23,222 kilometers). Twenty-eight of the 1,540-pound (700 kilograms) spacecraft have been launched to date, all of them aboard both Europe’s Ariane 5 rocket or the Russian-built Soyuz.
However Europe ended most of its area cooperation with Russia after the nation invaded Ukraine in February 2022. The Ariane 5 retired recently, and its successor, the Ariane 6, has yet to get off the ground after struggling a sequence of delays. So SpaceX was just about the one possibility remaining, European officers advised the Journal.
The upcoming missions will mark the primary time that SpaceX launches EU satellites carrying labeled gear, The Journal famous, and the primary time in 15 years that Galileo spacecraft launch from a non-European territory. (Current missions have lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guyana.)
“That has prompted the U.S. and the EU to begin talks on an settlement to shield labeled data within the satellites, officers stated,” The Journal wrote.
Galileo turned operational in 2016, although Europe continues to construct out the constellation, because the upcoming launches present.
The community, which takes its title from the famed Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei, at the moment consists of 23 operational satellites. In its last type, Galileo will characteristic 30 spacecraft — 24 lively satellites and 6 orbiting spares.