Soyuz is in the launch zone for Arianespace’s April 3 mission with the European Sentinel-1A satellite
The Soyuz for Arianespace’s seventh mission with its medium-lift workhorse launcher is now in the launch zone at French Guiana, ready to receive the Sentinel-1A satellite payload for Europe’s Copernicus Earth observation program.
Applying the procedures that have been followed since the Russian-built Soyuz inaugurated the space age, the basic three-stage vehicle for Arianespace Flight VS07 emerged from its integration building in the Spaceport’s northwestern sector this morning.
Using the familiar horizontal transfer process, Soyuz was moved on a transporter/erector rail car to the ZLS launch zone, clearing the way for its erection to the vertical position and positioning over the launch pad – suspended in place by four large support arms.
The launcher is now ready to receive Sentinel-1A, which is encapsulated in its protective payload fairing, along with the Fregat upper stage for Soyuz. This integrated “upper composite” unit will be transported from the Spaceport’s S3B integration facility to the ZLS launch pad, where it will be integrated atop Soyuz.
With a liftoff scheduled at the precise launch time of 6:02:26 p.m. (local time) on Thursday, April 3, the mission is one of multiple Arianespace flights in 2014 at the service of Europe. Sentinel-1A will be deployed in a Sun-synchronous orbit by Soyuz to provide essential data for Copernicus – a project designed to give Europe complete independence in the acquisition and management of data for Earth environmental, civil safety and humanitarian purposes.
Copernicus is a program of the European Commission in partnership with the European Space Agency. The Sentinel-1A spacecraft was developed in an industrial consortium led by Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor, with Airbus Defence and Space responsible for the C-SAR synthetic aperture radar payload.
Flight VS07 will be Arianespace’s third mission conducted from French Guiana so far this year – following an Ariane 5 mission on March 22 and another on February 6, which orbited a combined total of four telecommunications satellites.