Mission Update

Mission Update

The historic liftoff nears for Arianespace's first Soyuz mission from French Guiana

October 19, 2011 – Soyuz Flight VS01

Alexander Pimenov, who works for the Tsenki industry holding responsible for the Soyuz launch site’s ground infrastructure, makes a facility inspection during today’s final preparation activity.  Visible in the background is the mobile service gantry, which protects Soyuz until one hour before liftoff.

Arianespace’s history-making Soyuz maiden flight from the Spaceport has passed one of its final clearance steps with today’s launch readiness review, verifying the “go” status for this medium-lift vehicle’s morning liftoff from French Guiana tomorrow.

The review milestone is part of preparations for all Arianespace flights, and will be followed by a meeting at 4 hours, 20 minutes prior to liftoff that authorizes the Soyuz’ fueling – a step included in the final mission approval process for the Russian-built launcher.

Soyuz is carrying two IOV (In-Orbit Validation) spacecraft for Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system, which will be injected into a 23,222-km. circular medium-Earth orbit, inclined 54.7 degrees.  The precise liftoff timing at 7:34:28 a.m. on October 20 enables the two Galileo satellites to be injected into their proper orbital plane. 

Payload lift performance of the launcher is approximately 1,580 kg., which represents the two satellites’ mass of 700 kg. each, plus integration hardware that includes a dispenser system carrying the Galileo spacecraft in a side-by-side arrangement for a simultaneous deployment at the desired orbital insertion point.  Both satellites were built by a consortium led by prime contractor EADS Astrium with Thales Alenia Space.

This pair of IOV satellites, along with two others to be orbited by Soyuz in 2012, will form the operational nucleus of Europe’s full 30-satellite Galileo navigation constellation in a collaborative program of the European Space Agency and European Union.

The medium-lift Soyuz’ introduction at French Guiana will mark a new step in Arianespace’s launcher family expansion, with this vehicle joining the heavy-lift Ariane 5 in side-by-side operations from French Guiana.  Arianespace is to complete its family with the lightweight Vega launcher, which will make its maiden flight from the Spaceport in 2012.

Launch window for Soyuz Flight VS01


Paris, France

Kourou, French Guiana

Washington, D.C.

Moscow, Russia

October 20, 2011

12:34:28 p.m.
October 20, 2011

07:34:28 a.m.
October 20, 2011

06:34:28 a.m.
October 20, 2011

02:34:28 p.m.
October 20, 2011

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