Arianespace’s fourth Soyuz mission a success: Pléiades 1B in orbit
On Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 11:02 pm local time, Arianespace successfully launched its fourth Soyuz rocket from the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in French Guiana, orbiting the Pléiades 1B observation satellite for French space agency, CNES.
Fourth successful Soyuz launch from CSG
The Soyuz at CSG program carries on the long-standing collaboration in space between Europe and Russia, and gives Europe a medium-capacity launch vehicle that perfectly complements the Ariane 5 heavy launcher and the Vega light launcher. With these three launchers, Arianespace is the only launch services company in the world capable of launching all types of payloads to all orbits, including communications, scientific and Earth observation satellites, as well as constellations, cargo missions to the International Space Station and more. Arianespace has carried out nine missions from the Guiana Space Center to date in 2012, including six Ariane 5, two Soyuz and one Vega launch.
The company’s European-Russian subsidiary, Starsem, has also carried out a Soyuz launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Arianespace has scheduled another Ariane 5 launch by the end of the year.
Arianespace: a boost for Earth observation
With this latest successful launch, Arianespace continues its partnership with the global Earth observation community, enabling it to validate innovative satellite concepts in orbit. The partnership started back in 1986 with the launch of the first Spot remote sensing satellite by an Ariane rocket. Arianespace has launched a total of five Spot satellites to date, along with four Helios satellites, two ERS satellites and the huge Envisat satellite. In addition, Arianespace had already orbited the Pléiades 1A satellite and the Chilean satellite SSOT in 2011.
Pléiades 1B mission at a glance
The Soyuz ST-A launcher lifted off from the Soyuz Launch Complex (ELS) at the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana on Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 11:02:50 pm local time (9:02:50 pm in Washington, D.C., and on Sunday, December 2 at 02:02:50 UT, 3:02:50 am in Paris and 6:02:50 am in Moscow).
French space agency CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales) chose Arianespace to launch its two Earth observation satellites, Pléiades 1A and 1B. The French Ministry of Defense is a preferred Pléiades satellite customer. Pléiades rounds out the current array of military space observation systems, and helps meet the MoD’s growing requirement for space imaging. Pléiades 1B is a 1-ton class satellite built by Astrium at its plant in Toulouse. Thales Alenia Space supplied the very-high-resolution imaging instruments and the image telemetry system. The Pléiades satellites offer a significant improvement in technology over previous generation satellites, based on their size, image resolution, high degree of agility in orbit, and ground transmission capacity.