Deployment of Europe’s independent Galileo navigation network resumed Saturday night with an on-target launch of two satellites aboard a Soyuz rocket, the final Arianespace mission from French Guiana before the historic liftoff of the James Webb Space Telescope later this month.

Running four days late due to bad weather and a problem with a downrange telemetry station, a Soyuz launcher fired its kerosene-fueled engines and vaulted away from the Guiana Space Center on the northeastern shore of South America at 7:19:20 p.m.EST Saturday (0019:20 GMT Sunday).

The liftoff occurred at 9:19 p.m. local time at the launch base in French Guiana, beginning the 26th Soyuz mission from the tropical spaceport.

Two previous launch attempts were scrubbed due to bad weather, and officials called off another countdown due to the unavailability of a downrange shipborne tracking station in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Russian-made Soyuz ST-B rocket took off with nearly a million pounds of thrust and darted through scattered clouds, arcing to the northeast over the Atlantic Ocean.The Soyuz shed four first stage boosters two minutes into the mission, then jettisoned its clamshell-like nose cone after soaring above the thickest layers of the atmosphere.

The core stage shut down and released about five minutes after liftoff, and a third stage engine ignited to continue the flight into space. The Soyuz third stage finished its work about nine minutes into the flight, then deployed a Russian Fregat upper stage for Top Site Info the final maneuvers to place the Galileo satellites into orbit.

Liftoff of a Soyuz rocket from French Guiana, carrying Europe’s 27th and 28th operational Galileo navigation satellites.

The Fregat engine fired first to reach an egg-shaped transfer orbit, then the rocket coasted more than three hours before reigniting to circularize its orbit at an altitude of more than 14,600 miles (23,500 kilometers) and an inclination of 57.1 degrees to the equator.

The two 1,576-pound (715-kilogram) Galileo satellites, mounted side-by-side during launch, deployed from the Fregat upper stage around 11:11 p.m.EST (0411 GMT).

Ground teams at a Galileo control center in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, took command of the spacecraft. The satellites unfurled their solar panels as panned, officials said.

The spacecraft will complete a series of post-launch tests before entering operational service in a few months.

“Tonight, we have a fantastic success again for the Galileo program,” said Paul Verhoef, director of navigation at the European Space Agency.

Designed for 12-year missions, the new spacecraft will join 26 Galileo satellites already in orbit providing navigation services around the world for Top Site Info the European Union’s mulbillion-euro flagship space program.Ten launches of Soyuz and Ariane 5 rockets from French Guiana from October 2011 through July 2018 deployed the operational Galileo satellites, which are spread out in three orbital planes around 14,400 miles (23,200 kilometers) above Earth.

“The purpose of the coming up launch of Galileo is to complete the deployments of the satellites and the population of the different orbital planes to ensure that the constellation is complete,” said Andrea Cotellessa, head of the Galileo space segment management office at the European Space Agency.Here’s more on Top Site Info (look at these guys) review our own site.

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