Soyuz & Vega at the Spaceport
The first two Soyuz launchers are delivered to French Guiana
November 24, 2009
Arianespace has marked a historic milestone with the arrival of its first two Soyuz launchers in French Guiana, which will be used to inaugurate service with this medium-lift workhorse vehicle next year from the Spaceport.
The Soyuz 2-1a launchers were carried aboard the MN Colibri roll-on/roll-off transport ship, which docked on schedule yesterday morning at Pariacabo port near Kourou after completing the transatlantic crossing from St. Petersburg, Russia.
Unloading operations at Pariacabo started with refined kerosene propellant for the launcher’s strap-on boosters and its Block A and Block I stages, along with UDMH, N2O4 and hydrazine for its Fregat upper stage. The activity began yesterday from the ship’s upper deck, and continued through this morning.
Also brought ashore yesterday from the MN Colibri’s upper deck was a functional model of the Fregat, which will be used for fueling tests in French Guiana.
This was followed by today’s rollout of containers with the Soyuz launchers’ four first-stage strap-on boosters, their Block A core stages and Block I third stages, Fregat upper stages, as well as the Soyuz ST-type payload fairings. The transfer of these elements began in road convoys to the Spaceport today, and will be completed tomorrow.
Claude Bessemoulin, Arianespace’s head of logistics, said the unloading operations went very well, and followed the procedures employed for years in transporting Ariane launchers from Europe to French Guiana – a process that utilizes the MN Colibri and its sister ship, the MN Toucan.
Soyuz is one of the world’s most utilized launchers, having been operated in 1,750 missions from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and Russia’s northern launch site at Plesetsk Cosmodrome. Its introduction at French Guiana will bring this venerable medium-lift vehicle into Arianespace’s growing launcher family, joining its heavy-lift Ariane 5 now operational at the Spaceport, and subsequently the lightweight Vega.