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Europe launches four satellites for Galileo satnav system

FRANKFURT - Europe launched four more Galileo satellites on Thursday, bringing it a step closer to having its own navigation system and marking the first time it has sent up so many satellites at once.

FRANKFURT - Europe launched four more Galileo satellites on Thursday, bringing it a step closer to having its own navigation system and marking the first time it has sent up so many satellites at once.

The satellites, which blasted off from Europe's spaceport in French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 rocket at 10.06 AM local time (1306 GMT), will be part of the European Union's alternative to the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS.

The launch brings the number of Galileo satellites - each weighing about 700 kgs (1,543 pounds), equipped with antennae and sensors and powered by two 5-square-meter (53.8 square foot) solar wings - in orbit to 18, of a planned total of 30. 

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