European Space Agency puts 2 navigation satellites in orbit

BERLIN (AP) — A rocket fired from French Guiana has lifted two satellites into orbit that will form part of Europe’s rival to the U.S.-made Global Positioning System, or GPS.

The European Space Agency says the satellites are the 13th and 14th satellites for the Galileo system.

Tuesday’s launch aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket will be followed by the launch of four more Galileo satellites using an Ariane 5 rocket in November.

ESA says the Galileo system will begin full operation when 24 satellites are in orbit, though up to 30 will be launched to provide sufficient backup for the Galileo system.

Galileo is designed to deliver more precise navigation capabilities to civilian customers than existing systems, though it can also be used in conjunction with GPS.

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