It is a premiere in European spaceflight: the Ariane 5 rocket brought four new Galileo satellites into space. They are supposed to make Europe more independent of US-American GPS.

It takes about four hours to shoot a satellite 23,000 kilometers into space. At least if you like the European Space Agency (Esa) has an Ariane 5 rocket on hand. And for the first time, four Galileo satellites have been sent into space. So far, significantly smaller “Soyuz” raids have been deployed, which could transport a maximum of two of these satellites simultaneously.

The mission went according to plan: On Thursday afternoon the Ariane 5 rocket from the Kourou space station in French Guyana in South America took off. The satellites were successfully suspended, confirmed the head of the missile operator Arianespace, Stéphane Israel, a few hours later.

30 satellites by 2020

The satellites are part of the Galileo program, with 18 Galileo satellites circling around the world. Twelve others are to follow by 2020 – 24 of them in operation and six as replacements. The billions project of the EU Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA) is intended to make Europe independent of the American navigation system GPS. The position data of the satellites are to be used in the future, for example, in navigation devices in cars.

Originally, first Galileo-based offers should be available in 2008. Due to disputes among the partner countries, however, there were always delays. The European prestige project also came under criticism due to cost increases.

The next rocket starts in the summer of 2017

Now it is about to start soon: In the space travel day it is said that first services could start in December. However, the decision lies with the EU Commission. A spokeswoman for the Brussels authorities said on Thursday only that it was “so far” so far. Then navigation devices, which can receive Galileo signals in addition to GPS, could benefit from the system – even if it is not yet fully developed.

According to earlier information from Brussels, up to 2013, six billion euros have been spent on European satellite navigation, and a further seven billion for 2020 are planned for completion and operation on the budget. The next launches are planned for summer 2017 and early 2018 – also with European Ariane 5 rockets each carrying four satellites.