WATCH LIVE: EU to send four satellites into orbit to bolster its Galileo navigation system | Science | News

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The four satellites will be launched from the ESA’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, and will kick off at 18.36 GMT (15.36 local time).

Approximately nine minutes after launch, the four satellites will separate from the main rocket where they will continue on their journey into orbit.

According to a statement from the ESA, the upper part of the rockets carrying the satellites “will fly in ballistic configuration for three hours and eight minutes, after which a second upper stage firing will place it into circular separation orbit.

“Once stabilised at 3h 35 min after liftoff, the Galileo dispenser will release the first two satellites, followed by the second pair 20 minutes later.”

The ESA will be broadcasting the events from its website, with a live stream beginning at 18:10 GMT.

The satellites being launched are part of the Galileo project created by the European Union.

The EU has invested €5 billion (£4.4 billion) in the project which will see the ESA launch up to 30 satellites.

The reason behind the project, named after the famous Italian astronomer, is to create a secure GPS system across Europe.

Currently, European countries rely on the Russian GLONASS, Chinese BeiDou or US GPS systems which could be downgraded without any influence from the EU.

According to the ESA: “The first pillar of Europe’s navigation programme, the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) – operational since 2009 – is an overlay system based on a network of ground stations and three geostationary satellites.

“The stations gather data on the current accuracy of GPS signals and embed it in the EGNOS signal, which is uplinked to the satellites to be transmitted to users.”

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