Soyuz rolls out for Arianespace’s medium-lift launch with Hispasat 36W-1
The Soyuz launcher for Arianespace’s year-opening mission rolled out to the launch pad in French Guiana today, readying the vehicle to receive its Hispasat 36W-1 payload for a nighttime liftoff from the Spaceport on January 27.
The Soyuz launcher is transferred by rail from the Spaceport’s MIK assembly facility to the ELS launch zone.
Soyuz was moved from the Spaceport’s MIK launcher assembly facility to the ELS launch zone, using a transport/erector rail car in a horizontal transfer process. When positioned over the launch pad, the vehicle was erected into a vertical orientation, where it is suspended in place by four large support arms.
With this step’s completion, the mobile gantry was moved into position around the basic three-stage launcher – providing protection for the upcoming installation of Soyuz’ “upper composite,” which consists of the Hispasat 36W-1 spacecraft, plus the Fregat upper stage and payload fairing.
Flight VS16: a mission with several “firsts”
Friday’s mission, designated Flight VS16 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system, will be the first for Soyuz to geostationary transfer orbit in the medium-lift vehicle’s operations from the Spaceport. Soyuz was introduced at French Guiana in 2011, and has performed 15 missions to date from the South America facility.
Another first for Flight VS16 is the Hispasat 36W-1 passenger – the initial telecommunications satellite to use the SmallGEO series platform, developed under the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) program. Its design and manufacture was performed by Germany’s OHB System AG.
Once in orbit at a position of 36 deg. West, the three-metric-ton-category telecommunications platform will provide relay coverage and multimedia services across Europe, the Canary Islands and South America at the service of Hispasat – a world leader in Spanish and Portuguese broadcasting.
This photo series highlights today’s erection sequence for Soyuz at the Spaceport. After being positioned on the launch pad by its transporter/erector rail car (left), Soyuz is raised by the erector’s support arm (center photo). At right, the 53-meter-tall mobile gantry moves into position around Soyuz, providing a protected environment for installation of the mission’s Hispasat 36W-1 payload, as well as for final checkout of the fully-integrated launch vehicle.
Larger versions of the photos above are available for downloading in the gallery.
More details on Soyuz Flight VS16 are available in the launch kit: