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Galileos 11 and 12 live for your (imminent) navigating pleasure

Europe's satnav fleet gains operational pair

A Galileo satellite. Image: OHB

The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced that for your future metre-level accuracy navigating pleasure, satellites Galileo 11 and 12 are now fully operational and "broadcasting working navigation signals".

The pair launched from Kourou, French Guiana, last December. Since then, the onboard navigation kit has been successfully subjected to "a gamut of tests", ending in admission to the commissioned Galileo constellation. Galileos 9 and 10 were similarly passed fit for duty in February this year.

Europe is poised to embiggen the fleet this year to 18 operational satellites, thereby "bringing the Galileo system a step closer to operational use". Two will depart Kourou atop a Soyuz in May, while in the autumn a customised "Ariane 5 ES Galileo" will blast off in an audacious bid to deploy four satellites in one hit.

As to just when we'll be able to enjoy the benefits of Galileo, ESA says: "Initial services will be made available by the end of 2016. Then as the constellation is built-up beyond that, new services will be tested and made available, with system completion scheduled for 2020."

Ultimately, the constellation will comprise 24 operational satellites, with six in-orbit spares. ®

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