Ariane 5 ES rocket and Galileo satellites, illustration

Ariane 5 ES rocket and Galileo satellites, illustration

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Caption: Ariane 5 ES rocket and Galileo satellites, illustration. The Ariane 5 launch system is used by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the French space agency (CNES) to place satellites and other heavy payloads in Earth orbit, with launches carried out by Arianespace. There are two solid-fuel booster rockets either side of the 55-metre-high main stage. The Ariane 5 ES configuration is a variant designed to carry lighter payloads to altitudes of around 23,000 kilometres. The dispenser (top) can carry four Galileo satellites, releasing them smoothly in pairs using a pyrotechnic release system. The ESA's Galileo navigation system will consist of 30 satellites orbiting over 23,000 kilometres above the Earth. It is scheduled for completion in 2020.

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