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Space debris from Galileo satellite launch

Space debris from  Galileo satellite launch


The space debris which was discovered in the Tobago Cays last Tuesday, has been identified.{{more}}

The wreckage has been identified as part of the payload fairing of a Soyuz (Russian built) rocket, which was used to launch two Galileo satellites for the European Space Agency on October 21, 2011, from Kourou, French Guiana.

The debris was identified with the assistance of the United States Embassy in Barbados.

The first two operational satellites for the Galileo constellation – Europe’s 7.2-billion-dollar rival to the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) – were launched from the South American base of Arianespace Services and Solutions, which markets the European Space Agency’s rockets for satellite launches.

The “fairing” is a container used to protect the payload (satellite) during the ascent against the impact of the atmosphere. Once the rocket clears the earth’s atmosphere, the fairing is jettisoned, exposing the payload. The wreckage found on Petit Tabac in the Tobago Cays is believed to be the fairing from the Galileo launch.

The communication from the United States Embassy said, “the bird markings are from the upper composite and are a perfect match for the Galileo launch.”

The launch of the satellites was successful.

This was the first time that a Soyuz rocket has been deployed outside of Russia.

The two Galileo satellites have been named Natalia and Thijs, after a nine-year-old Bulgarian girl and an 11-year-old Belgian boy, who won a drawing competition among European youngsters.

The Galileo global navigation satellite system is expected to begin initial service around 2014, and be completed by 2019. It is intended to provide a high-accuracy positioning system upon which European nations can rely, independently from the Russian GLONASS and US GPS systems, which can be disabled for commercial users in times of war or conflict.