Galileo’s first two IOV (In-orbit Validation) satellites will be launched in the second half of 2011. The IOV phase consists of qualifying the system through tests and the operation of a reduced constellation of four IOV operational satellites and their related ground infrastructure. The two Galileo IOV satellites will be launched on a Soyuz rocket from the European Space Port in French Guyana.
On 1st April, the European Space Agency confirmed that the complex for the Soyuz launch is now ready for its first campaign. The Soyuz launch site has been certified and adapted to conform to European Safety Standards. The most visible difference at the launch site is the mobile gantry of the Soyuz launch complex which stands at 45 metres tall. It provides a protected environment as payloads are installed on the vertical launcher.
The third and fourth IOV operational satellites will be launched in the first half of 2012.