Soyuz

The medium launcher

Soyuz overview

The medium-lift Soyuz entered service from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana during 2011, bringing the industry's longest-operating launcher to the world's most modern launch base. Soyuz is a four-stage launcher, designed to extremely high reliability levels for its use in manned missions. Vehicles flown from the Spaceport are evolved versions that include an updated digital flight control system, an increased-performance third stage and the larger Soyuz ST payload fairing. The startup of Arianespace’s Soyuz missions from French Guiana opened a new chapter in the history of this robust vehicle, which introduced the space age with the launch of Sputnik – the world's first satellite – in 1957. Since then, Soyuz has been in continuous production, demonstrating its unmatched reliability with more than 1,800 manned and unmanned missions performed to date.

soyuz_top
soyuz

Soyuz overview

The medium-lift Soyuz entered service from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana during 2011, bringing the industry's longest-operating launcher to the world's most modern launch base. Soyuz is a four-stage launcher, designed to extremely high reliability levels for its use in manned missions. Vehicles flown from the Spaceport are evolved versions that include an updated digital flight control system, an increased-performance third stage and the larger Soyuz ST payload fairing. The startup of Arianespace’s Soyuz missions from French Guiana opened a new chapter in the history of this robust vehicle, which introduced the space age with the launch of Sputnik – the world's first satellite – in 1957. Since then, Soyuz has been in continuous production, demonstrating its unmatched reliability with more than 1,800 manned and unmanned missions performed to date.

October 2011
First flight
Russian Federal Space Agency
Prime supplier
3,250 kg.
Payload to GTO
4,400 kg.
Payload to SSO
  • 46.2 m
    Height
  • 10.3 m
    Diameter
  • 308 t
    Mass

Standard mission

  • Stages
  • Trajectory
  • STANDARD-MISSION_Soyuz_Etapes_001__11-18-2015

    Industrial team

    Soyuz is backed by a highly-capable industrial team that provides uninterrupted production at an average rate of 10-15 vehicles per year – with a rapid scale-up capability to accommodate users’ needs. Russia’s Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) works with an industrial team that includes the Samara Space Center TsSKB Progress (prime contractor for the Soyuz launch system) and NPO Lavochkine (prime contractor for the Fregat upper stage).

    AO Motorostroitel Russia
    Astrium ST Europe
    EADS CASA Espacio Europe
    KB OM Russia
    NPO Avtomatika Russia
    NPO Lavotchkine Russia
    RUAG Space AB Europe
    RNII KP Russia
    Space Rocket Center Progress Russia
    Thales Alenia Space - ETCA Belgium
    Voronyezh Mechanical Factory Russia
    More informations about Soyuz specifications only available on desktop and tablet website.

    Payload fairing

    An enlarged payload fairing is one of the most visible changes for improved Soyuz launchers to be operated from the Spaceport.  It is based on the proven configuration used for Arianespace’s Ariane 4 vehicles, with its length increased by approximately one additional meter.

    The new Soyuz fairing has a diameter of 4.11 meters and an overall length of 11.4 meters – enabling it to accommodate the full range of payloads in the launch vehicle’s performance category.

    Fregat upper stage

    Fregat upper stage

    Soyuz’ Fregat upper stage is an autonomous and flexible upper stage designed to operate as an orbital vehicle.  Flight qualified in 2000, it extends the Soyuz launcher’s capability to provide access to a full range of orbits (medium-Earth orbit, Sun-synchronous orbit, geostationary transfer orbit, and Earth escape trajectories).

    To ensure high reliability for the Fregat stage right from the outset, various flight-proven subsystems and components from previous spacecraft and rockets are used. The upper stage consists of six spherical tanks (four for propellants, two for avionics) arrayed in a circle and welded together. A set of eight struts through the tanks provide an attachment point for the payload, and also transfer thrust loads to the launcher. The upper stage is independent from the lower three stages, since Fregat has its own guidance, navigation, attitude control, tracking, and telemetry systems.

    The Fregat uses storable propellants (UDMH/NTO) and can be restarted up to 20 times in flight – enabling it to carry out complex mission profiles. It can provide three-axis or spin stabilization of the spacecraft payload.

    Third stage

    Third stage

    Arianespace operates two different third stages for its missions from the Spaceport in French Guiana. The Soyuz ST-A launcher uses and RD-0110 engine in its third stage, while the Soyuz ST-B features and upgraded RD-0124 engine.  Both Soyuz versions have been used for successful missions from the Guiana Space Center.

    Avionics for the Soyuz launcher are carried in the vehicle’s third stage, and are located in an intermediate bay between the oxidizer and fuel tanks.  As part of the Soyuz’ upgrades for its operations from the Spaceport, the launcher’s flight control system is modernized with a digital control system.  This system incorporates a digital computer and inertial measurement unit that are based on proven technology – giving the Soyuz improved navigation accuracy and control capability.

    Central core

    Central core

    The Soyuz vehicle’s central core second-stage is similar in construction to the four first-stage boosters, but with a special shape to accommodate the boosters’ integration around it.  A stiffening ring is located at the interface between the boosters and the core stage.

    Propulsion for the second stage is provided by a RD-108A engine with four combustion chambers and nozzles, along with four vernier thrusters. This core stage nominally burns for 286 seconds, and its verniers are used for three-axis flight control once the Soyuz’ first stage boosters have separated.

    Both the second stage central core and first stage boosters are ignited 20 seconds before liftoff, and they initially operate at an intermediate level of thrust in order to monitor engine health parameters.  The engines are then gradually throttled up, until the launcher develops sufficient thrust for liftoff.

    Boosters

    Boosters

    The Soyuz’ first stage is composed of four boosters that are assembled around the launcher’s central core.  These boosters are tapered cylinders, with the oxidizer tank carried in the tapered portion and the kerosene tank installed in the cylindrical section.  The boosters’ RD-107A engines are powered by liquid oxygen and kerosene – the same propellants used on each of the Soyuz’ three main stages. Each engine has four combustion chambers and nozzles. Three-axis flight control is carried out by aerofins (one per booster) and movable vernier thrusters (two per booster).

    Following liftoff, the first-stage’s boosters burn for approximately 118 seconds and are then jettisoned. Thrust is transferred through a ball joint located at the top of the boosters’ cone-shaped structure, which is attached to the central core by two rear struts.