Arianespace’s upcoming Soyuz mission receives its “identity” at the Spaceport
The payload unit for Arianespace’s next Soyuz launch has now been decorated with logos of the company and this flight’s customer – connectivity provider O3b Networks – as preparations continue for a liftoff from the Spaceport in French Guiana on December 18.
This “upper composite” consists of the mission’s four O3b Networks satellites and their dispenser system, which have been installed atop the Soyuz launcher’s Fregat upper stage and encapsulated in a protective fairing.
The fairing’s decals were added during activity in the Spaceport’s S3 clean room facility, readying the upper composite for transfer to the ELS launch pad and its hoisting atop the assembled Soyuz inside a 53-meter tall mobile launch service tower.
Designated Flight VS10 in Arianespace’s mission numbering system, next week’s launch will be the third with Soyuz at the service of O3b Networks, and the 10th for this medium-lift vehicle since its October 2011 introduction at the Spaceport.
The four 700-kg. spacecraft lofted by Flight VS10 will join eight O3b Networks satellites already in orbit, which were launched in clusters of four on Arianespace missions in July 2014 and June 2013. These relay platforms operate at a medium Earth orbit (MEO) orbital altitude of 8,062 km., significantly reducing round-trip data transmission times when compared to telecommunications satellites in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) at 36,000 km.
Thales Alenia Space produced the Ku-band satellites as prime contractor. Benefits of the Ku-band frequency include very large bandwidth availability, a low utilization by existing satellite systems, and the ability to use smaller antennas.
Flight VS10 will be Arianespace’s 11th mission of 2014.