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The launch date for the first two satellites of Europe's Galileo global navigation satellite system will be 20 October 2011. This will be the first of a series of Galileo satellite launches by Arianespace from Europe's Spaceport in French Guyana. The announcement follows a detailed review, under the chairmanship of Jean-Jacques Dordain, the Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA), with the participation of Arianespace and industrial prime contractors, which concluded that the space and ground elements will be ready for a launch in October.
The Galileo programme is Europe's initiative for a state-of-the-art global satellite navigation system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civil control. The first two Galileo satellites will be deployed using a Soyuz launcher and the launch will mark the inaugural Soyuz flight from its new launch facilities in French Guyana.
Emphasising the significance of the launch, Dordain said, "The October launch will be a perfect example of European and international cooperation. On one side we will have the first operational Galileo satellites in orbit, resulting from the cooperation between the European Union and ESA. On the other side, this is the first launch of Soyuz from French Guyana, a programme made possible through the cooperation between ESA and Russia."
"Arianespace is both proud and honoured to be contributing to this innovative project, reflecting the innovative technologies that are constantly being developed in Europe for the benefit of all citizens," said Jean-Yves Le Gall, Chairman and CEO of Arianespace.