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Soyuz April 11, 2016

A trio of miniaturized satellites are ready for Arianespace’s next Soyuz mission

Three “Ps in a pod!” The three CubeSat payloads from ESA’s Fly Your Satellite! program are integrated with Soyuz launcher hardware. At left, the CubeSats are shown arranged side-by-side in their P-POD deployment system. The P-POD is then secured to a vertical mounting bracket that has been attached to the Soyuz launcher’s ASAP-S platform (photos center, and right).

Payload integration has begun for Arianespace’s Soyuz mission on April 22, with the flight’s three miniaturized auxiliary satellite passengers now installed on a special platform that enables multiple payloads to be deployed by the workhorse launcher.

This spacecraft trio is from the Fly Your Satellite! program, an educational outreach of the European Space Agency (ESA) in collaboration with European universities. With the Fly Your Satellite! activity, students are provided practical experience with a space hardware project as part of the newly-established ESA Academy.

For Arianespace’s Soyuz mission to low Earth orbit next week, the three Fly Your Satellite! spacecraft are of the CubeSat-category – sized at 10.5 X 10.5 cm. each, and weighing 1 kg. per payload. They are installed in a deployment system called P-POD, and will be released during a launcher mission lasting a total of four hours.

The three CubeSats are: OUFTI-1 from the University of Liege, Belgium, which will test a new communications subsystem; e-st@r-II, developed by the Politecnico di Torino, Italy to demonstrate an attitude control system using measurements of the Earth’s magnetic field; and AAUSAT4 from the University of Aalborg, Denmark, to operate an automated ocean vessel identification system.

Soyuz’ ASAP-S Platform For Auxiliary Payloads

The P-POD deployment system containing these spacecraft is installed on Soyuz’ ASAP-S platform, which can accommodate several auxiliary payloads. Also integrated with ASAP-S will be the 303-kg. satellite called Microscope – a French CNES space agency spacecraft designed to validate a cornerstone of modern physics: the equivalence principle described by Albert Einstein.

The primary payload for Arianespace’s Soyuz mission on April 22 is Europe’s 2,164-kg. Sentinel-1B satellite, equipped with a C-SAR (C-band synthetic aperture radar) instrument for all-weather, day/night images as part of the Copernicus Earth observation program. Copernicus is managed by the European Space Agency (ESA) in partnership with the European Commission.

The upcoming Soyuz mission is designated Flight VS14 in Arianespace’s launcher numbering system, and will be the company’s third of up to 12 launches planned for 2016 using its family of the medium-lift Soyuz, heavy-lift Ariane 5 and lightweight Vega vehicles. Flight VS14 follows two flights with Ariane 5 performed to date this year: one orbiting the EUTELSAT 65 West A relay satellite in March; and the other lofting Intelsat 29e in January.

European Space Agency website, Fly Your Satellite!/CubeSats:

Soyuz April 8, 2016

Europe’s Sentinel-1B satellite is fueled for Arianespace’s Soyuz launch on April 22

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