Soyuz & Vega at the Spaceport

Soyuz & Vega at the Spaceport

Propellant and fluid delivery processes are validated for Soyuz operations at the Spaceport

November 16, 2010

The validation of delivery methods for propellant and fluids to the Spaceport’s new Soyuz launch site is nearing completion, marking another step toward the medium-lift vehicle’s maiden flight from French Guiana next year.

In activity performed during 2010, the means of supplying liquid oxygen, liquid nitrogen, and hydrogen peroxide to the Soyuz launch pad have been confirmed, while final evaluations for the delivery of kerosene are to be carried out in November and December.  

Liquid oxygen and kerosene are the propellants for Soyuz’ first, second and third stages; liquid nitrogen provides onboard pressurization and inerting; while hydrogen peroxide is used to drive gas turbines that power the launcher’s turbopumps. 

In addition to the supply of these propellants and fluids for the basic three-stage Soyuz vehicle on the launch pad, its Fregat upper stage will be fueled separately in the S3B preparation building at the Spaceport.   To verify this process, a Fregat upper stage functional model was filled with its UDMH, NTO and hydrazine storable propellants in the S3B facility earlier this year.

The following images show various activities performed at the Spaceport to validate propellant and fluid delivery and fueling procedures in preparation for the upcoming Soyuz operations from French Guiana. (Click on the photos for a larger version):

A purpose-built vehicle for the transportation of hydrogen peroxide to the Soyuz launch pad is pictured during its rollout this month.  Pulled by the Spaceport’s multi-purpose Titan tug, the wheeled vehicle was partially filled with hydrogen peroxide to validate the delivery process.   In the photo, it is seen leaving the Soyuz facility’s preparation area on its way to the launch pad.

The hydrogen peroxide delivery vehicle is shown under the Soyuz gantry, which is positioned some 80 meters from the launch pad.  Since the gantry is located in the primary axis from the Soyuz’ preparation area to the launch pad, this structure is designed to allow the hydrogen peroxide delivery vehicle – along with the kerosene supply rail car and the Soyuz launcher itself – to pass underneath on their separate rollouts to the launch table.

In this image, the hydrogen peroxide delivery vehicle is shown where it will be parked on the launch pad to supply a Soyuz launcher, which is to be erected in the background.  The hydrogen peroxide vehicle is one of three delivery systems that will move into the launch zone during final Soyuz preparations.  The others are a rail car with kerosene (which is to travel along the tracks visible in the photo’s center), and a dedicated wheeled container with kerosene to supply the Soyuz’ Block I third stage.  All other fluids and propellant supplied to Soyuz will be delivered through pipes that are built into the launch pad.

Liquid oxygen is shown venting from the Soyuz launch pad during validation tests performed with this propellant in September and October.  The liquid oxygen will be used along with kerosene to power the Soyuz’ three primary stages.  This view shows the launch pad as seen from the massive concrete flame trench, which was excavated into layers of soil and granite at the Spaceport.

The full-scale functional model of Soyuz’ Fregat upper stage is monitored during fueling tests at the Spaceport’s S3B preparation building in June.  Fregat uses UDMH, hydrazine and NTO storable propellants, and is designed to be restarted in flight.

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