PARIS, May 24 (APP): Europe’s Galileo sat-nav system launches 2 more satellites
Europe's Galileo sat-nav system , a rival to America's GPS, took a step closer to becoming operational with the launch Tuesday of a fresh pair of satellites to join a dozen already in space.
After a journey of nearly four hours, the pair should enter Earth orbit at an altitude of 23,522 kilometres (14,615 miles).
"Up, up and away! An on-time liftoff for @Arianespace's medium-lift #Soyuz," the company tweeted.
Ultimately, the multi-billion-euro constellation is meant to comprise 30-odd satellites -- the final number is yet to be determined -- providing navigation and search-and-rescue services.
Another launch, this time of four orbiters on a single rocket, is
expected to boost the constellation to 18 by year-end, allowing for Galileo to start providing usable signals.
More modern than the US Global Positioning System (GPS), Galileo's high-tech instruments should allow it to provide a more precise signal.
But the project has been plagued by delays, technical glitches and budgetary difficulties.