Last August, the European Space Agency (ESA) launched two Galileo satellites into the wrong orbit. It made a lot of news because they weren’t just a little bit off–the satellites were roughly 2,000 miles off target. Talk about an ‘oops’ moment. Here at GPS Tracklog, we followed the developments as they happened, so you probably remember that both satellites were eventually successfully maneuvered to slightly better orbits.
I have to admit that I read a lot more about the satellites than I actually wrote about here on the blog. At the time, the only information was available about the incorrect orbits was likely literally written by rocket scientists, and finding ways to translate (and even understand) exactly what was happening was a little challenging. So, now that everything is mostly in the clear, the ESA has released a document explaining in non-rocket science terms exactly what happened and how it was fixed.
Because we did cover the satellite debacle quite a bit when it first happened, I’m not going to rehash everything for you. Besides, to be totally honest, the official ESA document does it way better than I could anyway. It also includes quite few interesting facts and figures about the current Galileo navigational constellation including when all eight satellites were launched, how the ground control segment is coming along and information on the specs of the Galileo satellites. It’s pretty interesting.
Anyway, if you’re at all curious how all of that went down (and what’s in store for the recovered but still mildly incorrect satellites), you can read the official three-page document here. The whole thing is written in layman terms with far more easily understood explanations. I say kudos to ESA for releasing the document. It’s nice to see some transparency about the whole thing and really gives me hope for the Galileo program, despite all of the setbacks.