Assembled for launch: Soyuz receives the Galileo payload for its December 17 liftoff
The medium-lift Soyuz for Arianespace’s 2015 year-ending mission is now complete following the integration of its “upper composite” – which consists of the two Galileo satellite passengers, their protective payload fairing and the Fregat upper stage.
This activity was performed at the Spaceport’s ELS launch complex. It began with the upper composite’s transfer yesterday from the S3B payload preparation facility to the launch pad on a special transporter, and was followed by its hoisting to the upper level of a purpose-built mobile gantry – which provides a protected environment for the vertical installation atop Soyuz.
These steps completed Arianespace’s launcher build-up for the December 17 Soyuz mission, and allowed final checkout to commence in preparation for the scheduled liftoff at precisely 8:51:56 a.m. local time in French Guiana on Thursday.
This upcoming mission’s payload – a pair of FOC (Full Operational Capability) spacecraft that will further augment Europe’s Galileo global navigation satellite system – are to be deployed during a flight lasting approximately 3 hrs., 47 min.
The Galileo system is designed to provide high-quality positioning, navigation and timing services under civilian control. Its Full Operational Capability phase is managed and funded by the European Commission, with the European Space Agency (ESA) delegated as the design and procurement agent on the Commission’s behalf. Prime contractor OHB System produced the Galileo satellites, and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. supplied their navigation payloads.
Designated VS13, this week’s flight will close out a record year of activity for Arianespace and its launcher family – building on the 11 successful missions performed earlier in 2015 (two with the medium-lift Soyuz, three with the light-lift Vega and six with the heavy-lift Ariane 5).