Headlines > News > The historic liftoff nears for Arianespace's first Soyuz mission from French Guiana

The historic liftoff nears for Arianespace's first Soyuz mission from French Guiana

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:32 am via: Arianespace
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Soyuz Flight VS01

Arianespace’s history-making Soyuz maiden flight from the Spaceport has passed one of its final clearance steps with today’s launch readiness review, verifying the “go” status for this medium-lift vehicle’s morning liftoff from French Guiana tomorrow.

The review milestone is part of preparations for all Arianespace flights, and will be followed by a meeting at 4 hours, 20 minutes prior to liftoff that authorizes the Soyuz’ fueling – a step included in the final mission approval process for the Russian-built launcher.

Soyuz is carrying two IOV (In-Orbit Validation) spacecraft for Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system, which will be injected into a 23,222-km. circular medium-Earth orbit, inclined 54.7 degrees.  The precise liftoff timing at 7:34:28 a.m. on October 20 enables the two Galileo satellites to be injected into their proper orbital plane.

Payload lift performance of the launcher is approximately 1,580 kg., which represents the two satellites’ mass of 700 kg. each, plus integration hardware that includes a dispenser system carrying the Galileo spacecraft in a side-by-side arrangement for a simultaneous deployment at the desired orbital insertion point.  Both satellites were built by a consortium led by prime contractor EADS Astrium with Thales Alenia Space.

This pair of IOV satellites, along with two others to be orbited by Soyuz in 2012, will form the operational nucleus of Europe’s full 30-satellite Galileo navigation constellation in a collaborative program of the European Space Agency and European Union.

The medium-lift Soyuz’ introduction at French Guiana will mark a new step in Arianespace’s launcher family expansion, with this vehicle joining the heavy-lift Ariane 5 in side-by-side operations from French Guiana.  Arianespace is to complete its family with the lightweight Vega launcher, which will make its maiden flight from the Spaceport in 2012.

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