Soyuz’ maiden flight from the Spaceport is delayed by a ground support system leak
October 20, 2011 – Soyuz Flight VS01
A ground support system leak during third stage fueling of the Soyuz launcher was the cause of today’s delay for this medium-lift vehicle’s inaugural flight from French Guiana.
Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall said the leak was in a launch pad pneumatic system that activates the pre-planned disconnection of fueling lines to Soyuz’ third stage before the vehicle lifts off.
“During the final phase of third stage fueling, there apparently was a change in pressure in this pneumatic system, and we observed the unplanned disconnection of the two connectors that enable the fueling of Soyuz’ third stage with liquid oxygen and kerosene,” Le Gall told reporters during a briefing at the Spaceport’s Jupiter mission control room. “The problem apparently is due to a valve leak in this pneumatic system, and we have taken the decision to empty the launcher and replace the valve.”
Le Gall underscored that the identified anomaly is in the ground-based pneumatic system, not on the launch vehicle.
Fueling of the Soyuz is performed inside the mobile service gantry, which continues to remain in place on the launch pad. The launcher and its payload of two Galileo IOV (In-Orbit Validation) satellites are in a safe mode, as is the ELS launch site.
Le Gall said a decision is to be made later today on whether to reschedule the liftoff for tomorrow. “We will confirm this once the valve is replaced; the decision also will take into account the launch team members – who worked all night during the original countdown.”
If the launch is approved for tomorrow, the liftoff time would be four minutes earlier – at 7:30 a.m. local time.