The next pair of spacecraft to join Europe’s Galileo navigation system are positioned for liftoff late Thursday aboard a Soyuz rocket.
The photos below show the arrival of the satellites in French Guiana in late July from their factory at OHB System in Bremen, Germany, fueling of the craft by technicians in special hazmat suits, and attachment of the twin satellites on a dual-payload dispenser.
The package was then lowered atop a Russian-made Fregat-MT upper stage and enclosed within the Soyuz rocket’s payload fairing. Workers next added decals to the nose cone with the mission logos, then transferred the composite structure to the Soyuz launch pad late Monday for mating with the rocket.
Liftoff is set for 0208:10 GMT Friday (10:08:10 p.m. EDT Thursday) to place the 1,577-pound (715-kilogram) satellites into the Galileo constellation 14,600 miles (23,500 kilometers) above Earth.
The satellites are the ninth and 10th operational members of the Galileo fleet.
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