Arianespace’s Soyuz is ready for its mission to deploy the first fully-operational Galileo spacecraft
All is set for the final countdown to tomorrow’s Arianespace Soyuz Flight VS09, which will loft “Doresa” and “Milena” – the initial two FOC (Full Operational Capability) satellites in Europe’s Galileo navigation system – from French Guiana.
The ninth Soyuz launch conducted at the Spaceport was given its go-ahead today with a dual-satellite payload, which is named after children that won a European Commission-organized painting contest. Applying the procedures used prior to every Arianespace mission, the “green light” for Flight VS09 follows a comprehensive launch readiness review to validate the status of Soyuz and its satellite payload, along with the Spaceport’s launch site infrastructure and the ground stations that will track this mission.
This approval clears the way for an August 21 morning liftoff, scheduled precisely at 9:31:14 a.m. local time in French Guiana.
Following its liftoff, Soyuz will perform a mission of nearly three hours and 48 minutes to deploy Doresa and Milena. This includes a powered phase of Soyuz’ lower three stages lasting approximately nine minutes. Following a phased separation, the Fregat upper stage will then perform two burns, the first of approximately 13 minutes in duration, and then – after a three-plus-hour ballistic phase – a second burn of some five minutes to reach the targeted separation point for Doresa and Milena.
Designated Flight VS09 in Arianespace’s numbering system, this mission marks the company’s latest step in support of Galileo’s deployment. Previously, Arianespace’s medium-lift workhorse Soyuz vehicle orbited four Galileo IOV (In-Orbit Validation) spacecraft from French Guiana – with the first two lofted on Flight VS01 in October 2011 and two more launched on October 2012’s Flight VS03. Soyuz also carried two GIOVE (Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element) satellites on separate flights operated by its Starsem affiliate from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in 2005 and 2008.
The European-operated Galileo navigation system will provide highly accurate global positioning services under civilian control. The program’s FOC phase is funded by the European Commission, with the European Space Agency designated as the system’s development and sourcing agent. Prime contractor for these FOC satellites is OHB System of Germany and the spacecraft’s navigation payloads are supplied by UK-based Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.