Readying Arianespace’s first mission for O3b Networks: Launcher and payload integration are underway at the Spaceport
May 20, 2013 – Soyuz Flight VS05
Preparations for Arianespace’s next Soyuz flight are in full swing at multiple locations across the Spaceport, including the start-up of satellite installation in the S5 payload preparation center, and initiation of launcher build-up within the ELS launch site’s MIK integration building.
At the Spaceport’s main base area, the first of four O3b Networks satellites to be orbited on the June 24 mission is now mounted on the payload dispenser for Soyuz. During activity in one of the S5 building’s clean rooms, this trapezoidal-shaped spacecraft was fitted to the tube-shaped dispenser system’s upper and lower attach points. It will be followed by a clustering of the remaining three spacecraft around the tube, enabling the completed dispenser to be positioned atop Soyuz’ Fregat upper stage and encapsulated inside the payload fairing – creating the launcher’s “upper composite.”
In parallel, the Soyuz is taking shape at the ELS launch site’s MIK launcher integration building as the upper and lower sections of its core second stage were aligned for mating on horizontal jigs positioned in the floor-level rail system. This activity clears the way for installation of the launcher’s four first-stage boosters around the core stage. Once the integration process is completed with the Soyuz’ centerline third stage, the vehicle will be rolled out to the launch pad and raised to the vertical position – where its upper composite is to be installed.
Arianespace’s upcoming launch will be the fifth Soyuz mission from French Guiana since the workhorse medium-lift vehicle’s historic Spaceport introduction in October 2011. The June 24 flight is designated VS05 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system, with Soyuz joining the heavyweight Ariane 5 and light-lift Vega in side-by-side operations at the near-equatorial launch site.