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Soyuz December 13, 2019

Soyuz receives the payload for Arianespace’s year-ending mission on December 17

Arianespace’s next medium-lift Soyuz to be launched from French Guiana is now complete following the integration of its “upper composite,” made up of five satellite passengers, their protective payload fairing and the Fregat upper stage.

Integration of Soyuz’ “upper composite” took place inside the ELS launch zone’s mobile gantry.

This activity was performed at the Spaceport’s ELS launch complex near the town of Sinnamary, beginning with the composite’s transfer on a special transporter, followed by hoisting to the upper level of a purpose-built mobile gantry.

All is now ready for final checkout and Saturday’s launch readiness review, which will clear the way for a December 17 liftoff at precisely 5:54 a.m., local time in French Guiana. The mission – carrying a total payload mass estimated at 3,250 kg. – is designated Flight VS23 in Arianespace’s numbering system.

Multiple deployments for Soyuz

The mission’s primary passenger – COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation, an Earth observation spacecraft for the Italian Space Agency (ISA) and Ministry of Defence – will be deployed first during the four-hour-plus flight sequence. It was manufactured by Thales Alenia Space.

Next to be released by Soyuz is the Airbus-produced Characterising Exoplanet Satellite (CHEOPS) – which will be utilized by the European Space Agency (ESA) on a mission to study bright, nearby stars that already are known to host exoplanets, in order to make high-precision observations of the planet’s size.

Completing the mission will be the deployments of three auxiliary payloads: EyeSat, for the French CNES space agency; ANGELS, for CNES and Hemeria; and OPS-SAT, for Tyvak on behalf of ESA.

Flight VS23 will be Arianespace’s third launch in 2019 with a medium-lift Soyuz vehicle. Overall, it will be the ninth flight this year using the company’s full family of launchers, which also includes the heavy-lift Ariane 5 and lightweight Vega.

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


Liftoff times for Soyuz Flight VS23:

French Guiana
(Universal Time)
5:54:20 a.m.
on Dec. 17
on Dec. 17
3:54:20 a.m.
on Dec. 17
9:54:20 a.m.
on Dec. 17
9:54:20 a.m.
on Dec. 17
11:54:20 a.m.
on Dec. 17


More details are available in the Soyuz Flight VS23 launch kit:

Soyuz Flight VS23
PDF / 2 MB

Italian Space Agency website:

Thales Alenia Space website:

The European Space Agency website:

Airbus website, space activities:

CNES website:

Tyvak website:

Soyuz December 12, 2019

Soyuz reaches the launch zone for Arianespace’s final mission of 2019

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