Galileo! Galileo! Galileo good to go after six-week recovery effort

Errant sixth satellite nudged into useful orbit

Galileo

The European Space Agency has announced that the sixth satellite in its Galileo satnav constellation has reached its desired orbit.

The fifth and sixth Galileo birds flew last August, but a software problem with the launch craft's boosters saw both satellites land in sub-optimal orbits.

The fifth satellite was nudged into a useful orbit in December 2014 but the sixth has taken rather longer to settle.

The ESA says it needed a six-week, 14-manoeuvres recovery plan to get bird six into place. That plan has shaved about 3,500 km from the 25,900 km apogee of the satellite's orbit.

The ESA says the new orbit mirrors that of Galileo Five, so that even though satellites orbit every 20 days compared to the rest of the constellation's ten, it now gets better coverage.

The Galileo program's next milestone will be on 27 March, when two new satellites launch. ®

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