Arianespace is ready for the fifth launch of two satellites in the multibillion euro Galileo satnav program with satellites 9 and 10 dubbed "Alba" and "Oriana" set to blast off at 11:08:10 PM local time on Sept. 10 from French Guiana.
The Soyuz ST-B launcher, which will bring the two navigational satellites into orbit, will be carrying a total payload of 1,601 kilograms or 3,530 pounds. The mission is expected to last nearly four hours from liftoff to the release of the satellites.
"On its eighth launch of 2015 and the 12th Soyuz launch from the Guiana Space Center, Arianespace will orbit the two latest satellites in the Galileo global navigation system," Arianespace said in a statement.
The scheduled launch of satellites 9 and 10 this week will bring the total number of satellites in the Galileo global navigation system to 10. Two more satellites are scheduled to be launched later this year.
The European Space Agency (ESA) also hopes to launch six orbiters every year starting next year with Galileo program director Didier Faivre, from ESA, saying that they are confident with regards to the pace of deployment.
"We are very confident about the pace of deployment," Faivre said. "We have done a third of the work, but it was the most difficult third."
The European Commission wants to have 16 satellites in orbit by the end of 2016 to begin offering initial satnav services which include applications for in-car navigation, search-and rescue operations and smartphones. The full completion of the 30-satellite Galileo system is anticipated by the year 2020.
The Galileo project is a collaboration of the European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA). The satellites that are now in orbit are fully operational and are intended to be work for over 12 years.
The project, which rivals the U.S GPS for navigation and search-and-rescue services, is primarily aimed for civilian use. America's GPS, Russia's GLONASS and China Beidou-1/2 and COMPASS are more military oriented. Nonetheless, the project has its share of technical glitches, delays and even budget problems.
The March launch of orbiters seven and eight was about three months late because of a probe into a mishap that occurred in Aug. 2014 that sent satellites five and six into a lopsided and elliptical orbit. Frozen fuel pipes aboard the Soyuz rocket's fourth stage, the Fregat, was blamed for the mishap. ESA said that the problem is now fixed.