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Russian Rocket Launches With European Navigation Satellites

Europe has hoisted two satellites into space as it pushes to get its beleaguered Galileo satellite navigation program back on track.

Orbiters nine and 10 were launched from Europe's spaceport in French Guyana on a Russian-made Soyuz rocket on September 11, bringing the navigation system a third of the way to full deployment.

An official with Russia's Roskosmos space agency later confirmed that both satellites had reached their designated orbit.

The project, a rival to the U.S. GPS for navigation and search-and-rescue services, will ultimately sport 30 satellites.

But it has been plagued by delays, technical glitches, and other issues that have called into question whether it will meet its deadline to start working next year.

Scientists won't know until hours after the launch whether the satellites were placed in the correct orbit around Earth.

In August 2014, satellites five and six were sent into a lopsided trajectory. The pair have since been maneuvered into a more circular path, and are expected to function properly next year.

The European Commission, which finances the project, aims to have 16 satellites in orbit by the end of 2016 to start providing initial applications for smartphones, in-car navigation, and search-and-rescue.

Based on reporting by AFP and TASS