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Soyuz December 17, 2018

Soyuz is ready for Arianespace’s launch of the CSO-1 defense imaging satellite for France

Arianespace’s 2018 year-ending mission has been given its authorization for launch from the Spaceport in French Guiana, clearing the way for tomorrow’s medium-lift Soyuz flight that will place France’s CSO-1 satellite into Sun-synchronous orbit.

Soyuz has been cleared for Arianespace’s December 18 liftoff with CSO-1, which is contained in the “upper composite” – shown here after integration atop the launch vehicle in French Guiana.

This 11th and final Arianespace mission of 2018 passed its launch readiness review today, validating the “go” status for Soyuz and its spacecraft passenger, along with the Spaceport’s infrastructure and the downrange tracking stations.

The launch readiness review followed final integration activities for Soyuz, during which the vehicle was fitted with its “upper composite,” consisting of the Fregat upper stage and CSO-1 passenger encapsulated by the launcher’s ogive-shaped payload fairing. This occurred inside the protective mobile gantry on the Soyuz ELS launch complex.

The 20th Soyuz mission from French Guiana

Designated as VS20 in Arianespace’s numbering system, this will be the 20th launch of a medium-lift Soyuz from the Spaceport, with CSO-1 to be deployed during a flight lasting approximately one hour. The mission is using a Soyuz ST-A version of the Russian-build workhorse vehicle, with total payload lift performance estimated at 3,713 kg. for the mission.

Liftoff is set at 1:37 p.m., local time in French Guiana, on December 18.

The CSO-1 satellite will be orbited for France’s CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales) space agency and the DGA (Direction générale de l’armement) defense procurement agency, on behalf of the French Ministry of Defense. Operating at an altitude of 800 km., it will take 3D pictures and acquire very-high-resolution images in the visible and infrared bandwidths – day or night and in fair weather – and using a variety of imaging modes to meet as many operational requirements as possible.

Airbus Defence and Space is prime contractor for the CSO satellites; Thales Alenia Space supplies the optical imaging instrument.

Arianespace will close out its 2018 launch activity with Flight VS20 – which follows 10 other flights conducted from the Spaceport: six performed with Ariane 5, two utilizing the lightweight Vega, and two with the medium-lift Soyuz.

  • A larger version of the photo above is available in the Gallery.

More details are available in the VS20 launch kit:

Soyuz Flight VS20
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Soyuz December 14, 2018

Soyuz rolls out for Arianespace’s year-ending launch that will enhance French intelligence gathering efforts

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