Soyuz rocket blasting off from French Guiana. ESA credit.
Russia is no longer limited to launching their Soyuz rockets from Baikonur in Kazakhstan. On October 21st, in partnership with the European Space Agency, a Soyuz rocket lifted off from modified facilities in French Guiana in South America. Sent into orbit were the first two parts of the new European satellite navigation system, called Galileo. The twin IOV (In Orbit Validation) satellites will check and verify the position of other satellites to be placed in the network and test the system.
Twin Galileo IOV's separate.
The launch marks important milestones in the development and use of the Soyuz rockets. This is the first time the Soyuz has been launched outside of Russia's facilities, and strengthens the new working collaboration between Russia and the European Space Agency. This also gives ESA another reliable rocket in its portfolio of space operations.