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Soyuz December 12, 2019

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

The basic three-stage Soyuz for Flight VS23 is suspended over the launch pad following today’s rollout at the Spaceport in French Guiana.

The Soyuz vehicle for Arianespace’s year-ending mission has arrived at the launch zone in French Guiana, where it stands ready to receive the multi-satellite payload that will be lofted on this December 17 flight.

Soyuz was moved from the Spaceport’s MIK launcher assembly facility to the ELS launch zone, using a transport/erector rail car in a horizontal transfer process. When positioned over the launch pad, the vehicle was erected into a vertical orientation, where it is suspended in place by four large support arms.

The mobile gantry subsequently was moved into position around the basic three-stage launcher, providing protection for the upcoming installation of Soyuz’ “upper composite” – which consists of five passengers integrated with the ASAP-S dispenser system, plus the Fregat upper stage and payload fairing.

Payload profile

The ASAP-S auxiliary payload-carrying platform, with its ANGELS, EyeSat and OPS-SAT satellite passengers installed – along with CHEOPS integrated at its center – is positioned atop the Fregat upper stage for Flight VS23 during activity in the Spaceport’s S3B clean room.

COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation – an Earth observation spacecraft – is the primary passenger for next week’s mission and will be deployed first in the flight sequence. Manufactured by Thales Alenia Space, it is the fourth satellite to be launched by Arianespace for the Italian Space Agency (ISA) and Ministry of Defence.

The secondary passenger, the Airbus-produced Characterising Exoplanet Satellite (CHEOPS), is a European Space Agency (ESA) mission dedicated to studying bright, nearby stars that already are known to host exoplanets in order to make high-precision observations of the planet’s size.

Three auxiliary payloads also are on board: ANGELS and EyeSat, both for the French CNES space agency; and OPS-SAT for Tyvak on behalf of ESA. 

Closing out 2019

Next week’s mission, which is designated Flight VS23 in Arianespace’s numbering system, will be the 23rd launch of Soyuz from Europe’s Spaceport. It is scheduled to lift off at precisely 5:54 a.m. local time in French Guiana, with the five passengers to be deployed during a four-hour-plus flight sequence. Total lift performance to Sun-synchronous orbit is estimated at 3,250 kg.

Flight VS23 will close out Arianespace’s 2019 launch activity, which has involved eight flights from the Spaceport so far: four performed with a heavy-lift Ariane 5, two with the medium Soyuz and two utilizing the lightweight Vega.

The Flight VS23 Soyuz launcher’s transfer process begins with its rollout from the MIK assembly facility on its way to the launch zone at the Spaceport in French Guiana.

  • Larger versions of the photos above are available in the Gallery.


Liftoff times for 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 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 9, 2019

Preparations for Arianespace’s year-ending Soyuz mission enter the payload integration phase

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