The twin Galileo satellites were glimpsed for the very last time by human eyes yesterday as they were enclosed within their upper stage Soyuz launch fairing in preparation for their 20 October launch.
The previous week saw the pair of Galileo In-Orbit Validation satellites attached to their supporting dispenser. On Monday, the combined satellites plus dispenser were mated to the Fregat-MT upper stage that will transport them into their final 23 222 km orbit.
The mating complete, the halves of the Soyuz fairing were closed around the stack on Wednesday to form the ‘Upper Composite’.
The Galileo launch team watched intently as Russian technicians completed the encapsulation.
The satellites are now out of sight but hardly out of mind: they are monitored continuously via the data and power umbilicals that connect them to the outside world.