New Galileo satellites launched

Updated 22 August 2014

New Galileo satellites launched

PARIS: Two satellites for Europe’s rival to GPS, the Galileo navigation system, were lifted into space from French Guiana in a launch broadcast live on the website of Arianespace.
The pair of orbiters launched on a Russian-built Soyuz, will boost to six the number of satellites in the Galileo constellation and bring the network a step closer to becoming operational.
Blastoff took place from Europe’s Kourou space center at 1227 GMT as scheduled, after a 24-hour bad weather delay.
Live footage showed the rocket lift off before shedding its four boosters and faring — the nose cone that protects the craft in the early stages of flight.
At three hours and 47 minutes after launch, the satellites are set to separate into free-flight orbit at an altitude of 23,500 km above Earth.
The 5.4-billion-euro ($7.2-billion) Galileo constellation is designed to provide an alternative to the existing US Global Positioning System (GPS) and Russia’s Glonass, and will have search and rescue capabilities.
Four Galileo satellites have been launched before Friday, — the first pair in October 2011 and the second a year later. The constellation will ultimately comprise 27 satellites and three reserves.
The launch of the latest two orbiters, dubbed SAT 5 and SAT 6, had been delayed for over a year due to what the European Space Agency (ESA) described as “technical difficulties in the setting up of the production line and test tools.”
Arianespace said Thursday it had signed a deal with the ESA to launch 12 more satellites “from 2015 onwards.”
The ESA has previously said that 18 satellites should be able to provide initial navigation services to users “by mid-decade,” with full services “scheduled for the decade’s end.”
In March last year, the ESA said Galileo’s first four test satellites had passed a milestone by pinpointing their first ground location, with an accuracy of between 10 and 15 meters (32 to 49 feet).
For its ninth liftoff from the Guiana Space Center Friday, the Soyuz rocket carried a total load of 1.6 tons, including the two satellites weighing 730 kilos each.


Gulf economies to take coronavirus exports hit says S&P

Updated 17 February 2020

Gulf economies to take coronavirus exports hit says S&P

  • S&P expects oil prices to remain at $60 per barrel in 2020 and decline to $55 from 2021
  • The ratings agency expects the impact on the banking sector to be low, with little direct exposure to Chinese companies

LONDON: Gulf states already hurt by a weak oil price could reap further economic pain from the impact of the coronavirus on their exports, S&P Global Ratings warned on Monday.

The ratings agency believes there is a risk that the economic impact of the virus could increase unpredictably with implications for overall economic growth, the oil price and the creditworthiness of some companies. Still, its base case scenario anticipates a limited impact for now.

“Given the importance of the Chinese economy to global economic activity, S&P Global Ratings expects recent developments could weigh on growth prospects in the GCC, already affected by low oil prices and geopolitical uncertainty,” it said in a report.

Although the rate of spread and timing of the peak of the new coronavirus is still uncertain, S&P said that modeling by epidemiologists indicated a likely range for the peak of between late-February and June.

Notwithstanding the spread of the virus, S&P expects oil prices to remain at $60 per barrel in 2020 and decline to $55 from 2021.

It sees the biggest potential impact on regional economies to be felt in terms of export volumes. S&P estimates that GCC countries send between 4 percent and 45 percent of their exported goods to China, with Oman being the most exposed (45.1 percent) and the UAE the least exposed (4.2 percent).

Beyond the trade of goods, the Gulf’s hospitality sector could also feel the effect of reduced tourist arrivals with hotels and shopping malls likely to suffer. The impact could be further amplified because of the high-spending nature of Chinese tourists.

On-location spending by Chinese tourists is the fourth largest in the world at $3,064 per person, according to Nielsen data. About 1.4 million Chinese tourists visited the GCC in 2018 with expectations of that figure rising to 2.2 million in 2023, and with the UAE as the main destination.

Chinese passengers also accounted for 3.9 percent of passengers passing through Dubai International Airport in 2018.

S&P said that if the effect of the new coronavirus is felt beyond March, the number of visitors to Expo 2020 in Dubai could be lower than expected.

The ratings agency expects the impact on the banking sector to be low, with little direct exposure to Chinese companies.