Soyuz & Vega at the Spaceport

Soyuz & Vega at the Spaceport

The Spaceport’s new Soyuz launch site is ready for installation of its mission equipment

October 3, 2008

The world’s newest launch site for the longest-operating launch vehicle has completed its basic construction phase, and is now ready for the final installation of equipment that will enable the startup of operations as soon as 2009.

Our picture report highlights the progress in preparations for Arianespace’s introduction of the venerable Soyuz from its new launch site in French Guiana.  (Click on the images for a larger version):

A massive 149-meter wide X 123-meter long flame duct was excavated into layers of soil and granite at the Spaceport – repeating the same configuration used at Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome, where Soyuz ushered in the space age.

The Soyuz launch pad is a five-level reinforced concrete structure.  Positioned under the launch table is a large platform called the “service cabin,” which contains operational equipment and provides access to the launcher.

The launch pad’s top two levels have 15-meter wide openings for the launch table and its erected Soyuz vehicle.  Once the Soyuz has been lowered into these upper levels, the vehicle is suspended by load-bearing mechanisms integrated on the strap-on boosters.

This photo provides a view from the launch pad to the Soyuz assembly building, which is visible in the distance.  The two facilities are connected by a rail system that enables a completed Soyuz to be rolled out for launch.

The Soyuz Launcher Assembly Building is 92 meters long, 41 meters wide and 22 meters tall.  It is being equipped with two traveling cranes for handling launcher segments, along with a rail system for the movement and integration of the stages. 

Cabling for test and checkout of the Soyuz vehicles is installed inside the Launcher Assembly Building’s main bay.  Soyuz vehicles will be assembled in the same horizontal process at Baikonur Cosmodrome, although payload integration at Europe’s Spaceport will occur on the launch pad after the vehicle is erected in its vertical position.

The three-story launch control center is located in the rear area of the new Soyuz complex at Europe’s Spaceport.  This reinforced control facility is the only building in the Soyuz launch zone that will be occupied during final countdown and liftoff.



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