Final payload integration process begins for this week’s Arianespace Soyuz launch from the Spaceport with two Galileo spacecraft
The payload build-up has been completed in French Guiana for Arianespace’s medium-lift Soyuz mission on March 27, which is to orbit the third and fourth Full Operational Capability (FOC) satellites for Europe’s Galileo navigation system.
These latest preparations – which occurred in the Spaceport’s S3B clean room facility – involved installation of the two Galileo spacecraft with their dispenser system atop Soyuz’ Fregat upper stage, followed by encapsulation in the two-piece protective payload fairing.
The completed unit, called the “upper composite,” will be mated atop Soyuz after the workhorse vehicle’s rollout from the MIK integration building – where launcher assembly is handled – to the launch zone.
Scheduled for liftoff on March 27 at precisely 6:46:18 p.m. local time in French Guiana, Soyuz will carry out a nearly 3-hr., 48-min. mission from launch to separation of the two Galileo satellite passengers. Fregat – which is responsible for the final orbital maneuvers – will perform two burns separated by a three-hour-plus ballistic phase to reach the targeted deployment point.
Galileo is Europe’s initiative for satellite navigation. Its complete operational and ground structure will be deployed during the FOC phase, which 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.
OHB System built the Galileo FOC satellites for launch by Soyuz, while Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. supplied their navigation payloads.
The upcoming mission is designated Flight VS11 in Arianespace’s numbering system, and will mark the company’s fourth launch to date carrying Galileo spacecraft.