Soyuz is given the “go” for tomorrow’s Arianespace launch with a pair of Galileo navigation spacecraft
Arianespace’s third Soyuz launch from the Spaceport in French Guiana has been authorized for liftoff tomorrow on a mission to orbit two additional spacecraft for Europe’s Galileo navigation satellite constellation.
This “go” approval was given today after the regular pre-launch review for Arianespace missions, confirming the readiness of its medium-lift Soyuz, the ELS launch site and associated infrastructure at the Spaceport, along with the network of flight-following tracking stations.
This image, taken in an upper level of the ELS launch site’s mobile service gantry, shows the payload fairing with its two Galileo satellites atop the Soyuz launcher.
The mission is designated VS03 in Arianespace’s flight numbering system, and will be performed from the purpose-built ELS launch facility for Soyuz, located in the Spaceport’s northern sector near the city of Sinnamary.
All is set for an October 12 liftoff at 3:15:01 p.m. local time in French Guiana on a mission lasting just under 3 hrs., 45 min., which includes the powered flight of Soyuz’ three stages and two propulsive burns of the Fregat upper stage.
The payload is a second pair of Galileo In-Orbit Validation (IOV) satellites, weighing 700 kg. each, which will join the initial two IOV spacecraft orbited on Arianespace’s historic VS01 flight on October 21, 2011 – which marked Soyuz’ introduction at the Spaceport.
Today’s readiness review followed a full-scale rehearsal, held yesterday, that simulated the launch and involved the same teams and communication links to be used during the actual mission. Both Galileo IOV spacecraft – which are integrated atop Soyuz in the 4.1-meter-diameter ST payload fairing – have now been activated for their useful operational lifetimes of approximately 12 years.
The four satellites launched on Arianespace’s VS03 and VS01 missions will form an operational mini-constellation that enables a validation of the Galileo system. All four spacecraft were built by a consortium led by the Astrium division of EADS, with assembly and testing performed by Thales Alenia Space.
Galileo is a European initiative, with this navigation system being developed in a collaborative effort of the European Union and the European Space Agency.