Four-satellite Galileo dispenser readied for launch

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After rigorous testing in France and Germany, a new type of dispenser designed to carry four navigation satellites into orbit at once is now in French Guiana, in place for Galileo’s first Ariane 5 launch later this year.

Made from a combination of metal and composite materials for maximum stiffness, the dispenser has undergone testing at Airbus Defence and Space near Bordeaux, France, and the IABG Space Centre in Ottobrunn, Germany – using both Galileo engineering models and an actual flight satellite, including fit, shock and separation testing.

The test campaign met all objectives, reports the European Space Agency (ESA), confirming the dispenser performs as predicted, after which it was shipped to Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

The dispenser is an essential element of launch success. It first must hold the quartet of satellites securely in place during the stresses of liftoff and the nearly four-hour long flight to medium-Earth orbit. Then, at the target altitude of 23,222km, the dispenser will release the four Galileo satellites using a pyrotechnic release system triggered by separate igniters, each one firing half a second after the other.

The separated satellites are then pushed away from the dispenser in separate directions using a spring-based distancing system.

June 16, 2016

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