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SpaceX Launches Two European Galileo Navigation Satellites

By Abbey Weltman | April 29, 2024

SpaceX launch of Galileo L12 Mission from Kennedy Space Center Florida

SpaceX launched the European Commission’s Galileo L12 mission on Saturday evening, deploying two Galileo satellites. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the satellites to Medium-Earth Orbit (MEO) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, taking off at 8:34 p.m. ET on April 27. 

The two new navigation satellites launched are Galileo GM25 and FM27. The European Space Agency (ESA) confirmed the satellites are in orbit and operating several hours later.

The European Galileo constellation has been operational since 2016. Since then, 38 Galileo satellites have been developed and tested by ESA and European industry for the EU’s Galileo program. The constellation currently has 30 active satellites in orbit. 

This launch is taking place shortly after Europe’s new Public Regulated Service (PRS) signals began broadcasting. This encrypted navigation service is designed for authorized governmental users and sensitive applications.

The Second Generation (G2) of Galileo satellites will start joining the constellation in 2026 with the Ariane 6 launcher. ESA is working with European industry to develop the G2 satellites that will improve the fleet. 

This also marked the 20th and final mission for SpaceX’s first stage booster. It also was the 200th mission to use flight-proven fairings. Previous missions launched on the SpaceX first-stage booster are Intuitive Machine’s IM-1 mission lunar lander, GPS III-3, Turksat 5A, Transporter-2, Intelsat G-33/G-34, Transporter-6, and 13 Starlink missions.