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Feature story May 17, 2017

Launch preparations with Soyuz, Ariane 5 and Vega keep Arianespace on track for 12 missions in 2017

Arianespace’s objective of performing 12 launches in 2017 is backed by a high level of activity at the Spaceport in French Guiana, where mission preparations, payload checkout and launch vehicle hardware are in process for upcoming flights with Soyuz, Ariane 5 and Vega.

The basic three-stage Soyuz launcher for Flight VS17 is raised into position in the ELS launch zone, where it was fitted with the SES-15 payload and Fregat upper stage.

For the company’s next liftoff, a medium-lift Soyuz is now in the Spaceport’s ELS launch zone, fitted with its SES-15 telecommunications satellite payload. Undergoing the countdown for a morning departure on Thursday, May 18, this launch is designated Flight VS17 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system – signifying the 17th mission with the Russian-built workhorse vehicle since it entered service at the Spaceport in 2011.

Flight VS17 will mark Arianespace’s fifth mission so far in 2017, following two launches with the heavy-lift Ariane 5, and one each utilizing Soyuz and the light-lift Vega.

Preparing for the next two Ariane 5 flights

Elsewhere at the Spaceport, the next Ariane 5 has moved from the Launcher Integration Building to the Final Assembly Building, where a dual payload of the Viasat-2 and Eutelsat E172B telecommunications satellites will be integrated. This mission is designated Flight VA237, denoting the 237th flight with an Ariane launcher since the family of European-built vehicles began Spaceport operations in 1979.

Activity also has begun for the subsequent Ariane 5 launch, VA238, which will loft the Hellas-Sat 3/Inmarsat S relay satellite and the GSAT-17 telecommunications spacecraft for the Indian Space Research Organisation.

GSAT-17 arrived in French Guiana this week aboard a chartered cargo jetliner that landed at Cayenne’s Félix Eboué Airport. Separately, elements for Flight VA238’s Ariane 5 launch vehicle were delivered to Kourou’s Pariacabo port by the MN Toucan roll-on/roll-off transport ship, completing a trans-Atlantic sea voyage that also carried launcher components for Arianespace’s next Vega mission.

India’s GSAT-17 satellite for Arianespace’s Flight VA238 with Ariane 5 is unloaded from a chartered cargo jetliner at Cayenne’s Félix Eboué Airport (at left), while the Ariane 5 for Flight VA237 is transferred to the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building (center). In the photo at right, the Zefiro 9 third stage for Arianespace’s next Vega launcher is unloaded from the MN Toucan ship at Kourou’s Pariacabo port.

Larger versions of the photos above are available to download in the Gallery.

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