Soyuz reaches the launch zone for this week’s Arianespace mission
The Soyuz for Arianespace’s next medium-lift mission has arrived at the launch zone in French Guiana, where it stands ready to receive the multi-satellite payload that will be lofted on this April 22 flight.
Flight VS14’s satellite passengers are shown partially encapsulated in their protective payload fairing as part of the Soyuz launcher’s “upper composite.”
Applying procedures that have been followed since the workhorse Soyuz launcher ushered in the Space Age, the basic three-stage vehicle emerged today from its MIK integration building in the Spaceport’s northwestern sector.
Riding horizontally on a transporter/erector rail car, Soyuz was then transferred to the Spaceport’s ELS launch zone – which was followed by its erection to the vertical orientation and positioning over the launch pad, suspended in place by four large support arms.
With the transfer completed, all was ready for the mobile gantry to be moved into position around Soyuz. This purpose-built, 53-meter-tall structure provides a protected environment for installation of the launcher’s “upper composite,” which consists of the multiple satellite passengers, Fregat upper stage and two-piece protective payload fairing.
To be lofted on the April 22 mission – which is designated VS14 in Arianespace’s numbering system – is Sentinel-1B, which will provide all-weather, day/night images as part of Europe’s Copernicus Earth observation program; France’s Microscope, designed to validate the equivalence principle described by Albert Einstein; and three miniaturized CubeSats for the European Space Agency’s Fly Your Satellite! university student program.
Flight VS14 is scheduled to lift off at precisely 6:02:13 p.m. local time in French Guiana, with its passengers to be deployed during a flight lasting approximately four hours after liftoff. The total payload lift performance is estimated at 3,099 kg.