Final countdown begins: Soyuz is just hours away from launch to expand Europe’s Galileo global satellite navigation system
The Soyuz mission with two Galileo Full Operational Capability (FOC) spacecraft has entered its final countdown for today’s liftoff from the Spaceport in French Guiana.
Fueling of Soyuz is now underway on the launch pad, with the vehicle protected by a 53-meter-tall mobile gantry. The gantry will be rolled back to its parked position one hour before liftoff, revealing the completed launcher for the first time.
Today’s Arianespace flight – designated VS11 in the company’s launcher family numbering system – is set for liftoff at 6:46:18 p.m. local time in French Guiana, with the two Galileo satellite passengers to be deployed during a flight lasting approximately 3 hrs., 47 min.
Payload lift performance for this flight is estimated at 1,597 kg., including some 1,428 kg. for the two spacecraft – which were produced by OHB System. Supplying their navigation payloads was Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.
Galileo’s FOC phase – during which the network’s complete operational and ground infrastructure will be deployed – is managed and funded by the European Commission, with the European Space Agency delegated as the design and procurement agent on the Commission’s behalf.