Arianespace's Soyuz launcher has begun its ninth mission from the Spaceport, carrying the initial two FOC (Full Operational Capability) satellites in Europe's Galileo navigation system, which are named "Doresa" and "Milena."
Soyuz is to deploy its passengers on a flight lasting nearly 3 hrs., 48 minutes. The launcher's Fregat upper stage - which is responsible for carrying out the final orbital maneuvers - will perform two burns separated by a three-hour-plus ballistic phase to reach the targeted deployment point for Flight VS09's dual-satellite payload.
Named for children who were among the winners of a European Commission painting competition in 2011, Doresa and Milena are the first in a series of 22 Galileo FOC satellites that will be deployed using Arianespace's workhorse Soyuz and heavy-lift Ariane 5 vehicles.
Galileo's FOC phase is funded by the European Commission, which has designated the European Space Agency as the system's development and sourcing agent. The prime contractor for these initial two Galileo FOC satellites - which have a mass of 730 kg. each - is OHB System of Germany, with the spacecraft's navigation payloads supplied by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. of the UK.