Science

UPDATE: Arianespace will launch two European navigation satellites on a Soyuz rocket on Saturday night. Watch it live.

Update for December 3: Due to bad weather, Arianespace again delayed this release by 24 hours. Takeoff is scheduled for Saturday, December 4. The exact time of the planned takeoff has not yet been announced.

Update for December 2: Arianespace is now targeting the Friday (December 3) launch of the Galileo satellite mission on a Russian-made Soyuz rocket. Takeoff is scheduled for December 3 at 7:23 pm EST (0023 GMT).

Arianespace plans to send two new European Galileo navigation satellites into space tonight (December 2) and will be able to watch it live online.

An Arianespace Soyuz rocket will put two navigation satellites into orbit at 7:27 p.m. EST (9:27 p.m. local time at the Guiana Space Center launch site in Kourou, French Guiana, or on Friday, December 3 at 0027 GMT). France-based Arianespace is expected to stream the launch live on YouTube, which you can watch here, once it’s available. Arianespace typically begins its launch webcasts about 20 minutes before takeoff.

The European Space Agency will also webcast the launch on its ESAWeb TV broadcast. The mission, if successful, will grow Europe’s global satellite navigation satellite to 28 members. The nearly six-year constellation serves 2.3 billion users worldwide, Arianespace said in the release documentation.

Related: How Rockets Work: A Complete Guide

Arianespace will use a Soyuz rocket produced by the Progress Space Rocket Center, which is part of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. This is the fourteenth time this partnership has aimed to send a Galileo mission into space, Arianespace said.

The mission is being carried out for the European Space Agency (ESA), on behalf of the European Commission, to bring “strategic autonomy and sovereignty to the EU [European Union] citizens and their member states, “Arianespace said of the mission.

Galileo is similar to the United States global positioning system (GPS) and the Russian Glonass system, but aims to provide Europeans with a home-made alternative in case one of these other systems is not available to them.

The 26 Galileo satellites now in orbit were launched by both Soyuz rockets and the company’s own heavy-lift rocket, Ariane 5. Arianespace plans six more Galileo satellites in the coming years using Soyuz and a version of the next-generation Ariane 6 rocket. known as Ariane. 62. The first flight of the Ariane 6 rocket is now expected in 2022, delayed from 2020.

Tonight’s mission, known as Galileo FOC-M9, will be the 61st mission launched by Arianespace on behalf of ESA and will carry satellites 83 and 84 for the partnership. The delivered satellites will join the rest of the Galileo constellation in medium Earth orbit at 14,429 miles (23,222 kilometers), according to ESA documentation.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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