Soyuz meets its multi-satellite payload for Friday’s Arianespace launch
The medium-lift Soyuz for Arianespace’s upcoming launch from French Guiana is now complete, following the integration of its “upper composite” – which consists of a five-satellite payload to support European sustainable development and science, while also promoting science and technology careers.
This activity occurred at the Spaceport’s ELS launch complex, beginning with the upper composite’s transfer yesterday from the S3B payload preparation facility to the launch pad on a special transporter. After arriving at the ELS site’s launch pad, the upper composite was hoisted to the upper level of a purpose-built mobile gantry – which provides a protected environment for the vertical installation atop Soyuz.
Designated Flight VS14, the Soyuz mission will begin with a liftoff at exactly 06:02:13 p.m. (local time in French Guiana) on April 22, deploying its passengers into low Earth orbit during a mission lasting 4 hours, 52 seconds.
Flight VS14 Payloads: Sentinel-1B, Microscope, And Three Cubesats
The first spacecraft deployed will be Sentinel-1B, a satellite that joins the space segment of Copernicus – the European Commission’s program with the European Space Agency (ESA). Sentinel-1B is a C-band radar observation platform designed to provide a comprehensive solution for radar surveillance of the environment and for security issues. This payload has a liftoff mass estimated at 2,164 kg.
Next to be released by Soyuz is a trio of “Fly Your Satellite!” CubeSats – miniaturized spacecraft that provide European university students practical experience in key phases of a challenging, real satellite project. The CubeSats weigh 1 kg. each, deployed from a 3-kg. dispenser.
Completing the mission will be release of the CNES French space agency’s Microscope scientific satellite, which will verify the equivalency principle for inertial and gravitational mass as stated by Albert Einstein. Microscope has an estimated liftoff mass of 303 kg.
Flight VS14 will be Arianespace’s initial Soyuz flight of 2016, and is one of up to 12 missions planned from the Spaceport this year with its launcher family of the medium-lift Soyuz, heavy-lift Ariane 5 and lightweight Vega. Arianespace has conducted two flights so far in 2016, both using Ariane 5.