Europe chose Falcon 9 rockets to launch navigation satellites

Europe chose Falcon 9 rockets to launch navigation satellites

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle carrying 60 Starlink satellites will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on January 29, 2020.

The European Union has reached an agreement with the United States that will allow the launch of four Galileo navigation satellites on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

The security agreement allows EU and European Space Agency personnel to have permanent access to the launch pad and, in the event of a mission failure, to be the first to retrieve the debris.

After signing the agreement, ESA can begin final preparations for two launches of two satellites each on a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida. These Galileo missions will take place later this year. The satellites, each of which weighs about 700 kg, will be launched into an orbit about 22,000 km above the planet.

Increased security measures are due to the fact that the satellites, the creation of which cost hundreds of millions of euros, have built-in patented technology that performs functions similar to those performed by the American Global Positioning System satellites. The launch in Florida will be the first time Galileo satellites, used for civilian and military purposes, have been exported outside of European territory.

Because of the additional costs associated with the national security mission, the European Union agreed to pay 180 million euros, or about $196 million, for the two launches. That’s about a 30 percent premium over the Falcon 9’s standard launch price of $67 million.

ESA had to look for a new service provider after it ended its cooperation with the Russian space corporation Roscosmos. Another reason is related to the ongoing delays in the development of the Ariane 6 rocket. Originally, this rocket was supposed to debut four years ago, but its development and technical equipment has been delayed several times. Europe’s launch vehicle crisis worsened last year when the continent retired its long-running Ariane 5 rocket, leaving it without a ready replacement.

Related posts