Soyuz & Vega at the Spaceport
The mobile Soyuz gantry completes its first rollout at the Spaceport
November 25, 2010
The mobile service gantry at Soyuz’ new launch site in French Guiana has completed its first rollout, marking another key milestone in preparations for the medium-lift vehicle's 2011 service introduction at the Spaceport with Arianespace.
In a validation performed earlier this month, the gantry covered the 80-meter distance from its parked position – where this 800-metric ton structure was assembled – to the launch pad where Soyuz vehicles will be erected and readied for liftoff. In mission operations, the gantry will provide a protected environment for the installation of payloads on Soyuz, as well as for checkout of the fully-integrated vehicles.
The gantry is a key difference in the Spaceport's launch infrastructure compared to the long-operating Soyuz facilities at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. It allows payloads to be installed on Soyuz vehicles in the vertical position – as is performed with Ariane 5 – and is a change from the horizontal integration traditionally performed with the Russian-built launchers inside assembly buildings at both Cosmodromes.
“This successful rollout test is a confirmation that the Soyuz gantry’s construction is complete,' said Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall. "It is an important step, clearing the way for final testing with the Soyuz launch system at the Spaceport – which will enable us to be ready to begin the initial launch campaign. With the gantry’s use during operational missions, our customers will have the optimum working conditions with their payloads on Soyuz."
During its rollout process at the Spaceport, the Soyuz gantry rides on rail-type quad-wheel bogies. They are driven by hydraulic motors, allowing the gantry to move at a maximum speed of eight meters per minute during its transfer