Soyuz > Milestones
The medium-lift Soyuz – which started operations from the Spaceport in 2011 – is the industry’s longest-operating launcher with more than 1,700 manned and unmanned missions performed to date.
- October 12 – Soyuz’ third Spaceport mission for Arianespace orbits two more In-Orbit Validation (IOV) satellites for the European Galileo navigation system.
- December 17 – The Spaceport’s second Soyuz mission for Arianespace demonstrates this launcher’s flexibility by deploying a total of six satellite payloads: the Pléiades 1A dual-use, very-high-resolution satellite; the Chilean SSOT defense/civilian imaging satellite; and four ELISA micro-satellite demonstrators for defense-related electronic intelligence gathering.
- November 7 – For the first time at the Spaceport, flight preparations are underway in parallel for each member of Arianespace’s complete launcher family operating from French Guiana: the medium-lift Soyuz, heavy-lift Ariane 5 and lightweight Vega. This activity includes the assembly of Soyuz’ first three stages in the MIK integration facility, and checkout of its Fregat upper stage in the S3B clean room building in advance of Arianespace’s December 16 mission with a multi-passenger payload.
October 24 – Arianespace’s launcher family is a reality as operational versions of Soyuz, Ariane 5 and Vega are present for the first time in French Guiana, positioned for upcoming missions. The second medium-lift Soyuz to be launched from the Spaceport, which is being prepared for a December 16, 2011 liftoff, is joined by an Ariane 5 for the VA205 mission in early 2012 with Europe’s third Automated Transfer Vehicle, along with the no. 1 Vega for this lightweight launcher’s VV01 qualification flight in January 2012.
October 21 – Arianespace opens a new chapter in space history with a milestone double mission success that marked the Soyuz launcher’s inaugural flight from French Guiana, and which placed Europe’s first two Galileo navigation satellites into orbit.
October 7 – The second launch campaign for a Soyuz mission from French Guiana begins, putting in motion the preparations for a mid-December 2011 liftoff with the French CNES space agency’s Pleiades optical Earth observation satellite, accompanied by five supplemental payloads. This activity is performed in parallel with preparations for Soyuz’ maiden flight from the Spaceport, which is set for October 20.
August 16 – Launch campaign activity begins for the first Soyuz mission from French Guiana, which is scheduled for liftoff on October 20 with a payload of two In-Orbit Validation (IOV) spacecraft for Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system. This mission is designated Flight VS01, using Arianespace’s numbering sequence for its growing launcher family.
June 22 – Launchers to be used for the Spaceport’s first two Soyuz missions arrive this week in French Guiana aboard the MN Colibri roll-on/roll-off sea-going ship. One will be earmarked for the October 20 liftoff with a pair of Galileo navigation system satellites.
- May 5 – Soyuz performs a highly-realistic "virtual" flight from French Guiana, using the first fully-assembled Soyuz on the Spaceport's launch pad, and with European/Russian teams manning the launch and mission control rooms.
- April 29 – Soyuz makes its world debut at the Spaceport as it rolls out to the launch pad for the first time during a “dry run” exercise replicating all aspects of the Russian-built launcher’s final preparation phase for missions from French Guiana.
- November 20 – The purpose-built mobile gantry for Soyuz at the Spaceport performs its first rollout to the launch pad.
- October 20 – Six Globalstar second-generation satellites are successfully orbited on an Arianespace Soyuz mission from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Conducted by Arianespace’s Starsem affiliate, this flight utilizes using the improved Soyuz version to be introduced at Europe’s Spaceport in 2011.
- May 8 – The no. 1 Soyuz assembled at the Spaceport completes its initial phase of integration with the mating of its four first-stage strap-on boosters to the Block A core second stage.
- January 26 – Soyuz launchers operated from the Spaceport in French Guiana will orbit the first 10 spacecraft in Europe's planned Galileo satellite positioning system, based on a contract signed by Arianespace. These spacecraft will be orbited starting in December 2012.
- November 23 – The MN Colibri cargo ship carrying the first two Soyuz launchers – which will be used to inaugurate service with this medium-lift vehicle next year from the Spaceport – arrives in French Guiana after completing the transatlantic crossing from St. Petersburg, Russia.
- November 7 – Arianespace’s first two Soyuz vehicles for operation from the Spaceport leave St. Petersburg, Russia for their transatlantic voyage to French Guiana aboard the MN Colibri transport ship. The legendary medium-lift launcher is expected to make its first liftoff from the Spaceport in 2010.
- February 19 – Installation start-up begins for the new Soyuz operating site's launch system at Europe's Spaceport.
- July 27 – Hardware and systems for Soyuz’ new launch site arrive in French Guiana aboard the ship Flinterland, which completed its trans-Atlantic voyage from St. Petersburg in Russia. This 160-container shipment clears the way for arrival of the main contingent of Russian technicians, engineers and other specialists who will be responsible for completing the new Soyuz launch facility.
- July 26 – The improved Soyuz configuration to be used in Arianespace’s launch operations from French Guiana is flown from Russia’s Plesetsk Cosmodrome for the launch of a Russian governmental spacecraft. Upgrades to the launcher include the more powerful third-stage engine, a digital control system and a 4.1 meter-diameter Soyuz ST fairing.
- April 27 – Soyuz successfully launches Europe’s second navigation satellite, Giove-B, on a mission managed by Arianespace’s Starsem affiliate from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
- December 14 – Canada’s Radarsat-2 satellite is launched by a Soyuz flight from Baikonur Cosmodrome, which was managed by Arianespace’s Starsem affiliate. This was Starsem’s 20th mission – all which have been highly successful.
- October 21 – The Starsem affiliate of Arianespace continues its relationship with Globalstar by launching four more spacecraft on a Soyuz from Baikonur Cosmodrome. These satellites, together with four others successfully launched by Starsem last May, will augment Globalstar’s current operating constellation through the launch of its second-generation satellites.
- September 11 – Astrium selects Arianespace to launch four ELISA (ELectronic Intelligence by SAtellite) spacecraft on a 2009 Soyuz mission from the Spaceport. These auxiliary passengers, each weighing about 135 kg., will be carried with the Pléiades primary satellite payload.
- September 4 – Globalstar chooses Arianespace to launch all 48 satellites in its second-generation constellation. The initial flight is planned in the summer of 2009 with a Soyuz operated from Europe’s Spaceport. The Soyuz will inject six Globalstar 2 satellites – each weighing about 700 kg. – into circular orbit at an altitude of 920 kilometers, inclined at 52 degrees.
- May 30 – A Soyuz mission under the management of Arianespace’s Starsem affiliate orbits four satellites to augment the Globalstar constellation. The mission marked the 1,721st flight of a Soyuz vehicle.
- April 4 – Arianespace announces a contract to launch the Australian Optus D3 satellite in 2009 aboard a Soyuz flown from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.
- December 27 – A joint Arianespace/Starsem mission orbits the COROT astronomy satellite for the French CNES space agency. The flight, from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, was the first with the Soyuz 2-1b version – which is equipped with a more powerful third-stage engine, as well as a digital flight control system.
- December 24 – Soyuz’ 11th mission in 2006 marks the second use of an improved Soyuz 2-1a launcher version. Performed from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia, the flight orbited a Russian governmental satellite.
- October 19 – MetOp-A, Europe’s first polar-orbiting satellite dedicated to operational meteorology, is orbited by the Starsem affiliate of Arianespace using the upgraded Soyuz 2-1a version. The 2-1a configuration features improved navigation accuracy and control capability provided by a digital control system. This flight also used the new ST payload fairing with an external diameter of 4.1 meters and a length of 11.4 meters.