This Thursday the fifth and sixth Galileo satellites are scheduled for launch at 12:31 GMT from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana. They will be launched at the top of a Soyuz rocket and should be operational sometime this fall, bringing the Galileo system one step closer to offering initial services. Once the satellites are in space, the European Space Agency (ESA) will take control and conduct additional testing to verify accuracy and functionality.
There are currently four Galileo in-orbit validation satellites in space, deployed in 2011 and 2012. Just last week testing on the accuracy and encryption on those four satellites was finished successfully. Two additional satellites are scheduled for launch early next year, with an additional six to eight satellites launched each year until the constellation is complete. The satellites will be launched using a series of Soyuz and Ariane rockets from Kourou. Full operational capacity is expected around 2020.