Soyuz delivers FalconEye to orbit for the United Arab Emirates
Arianespace orbited the United Arab Emirates’ FalconEye Earth observation satellite tonight on its latest Soyuz mission from the Spaceport in French Guiana.
Lifting off at the precise moment set for this launch at 10:33 p.m. (local time in French Guiana), Soyuz deployed its 1,340-kg. passenger into Sun-synchronous orbit.
After an initial powered phase of Soyuz’ three lower stages, the flight’s trajectory included two burns of the Fregat upper stage to place FalconEye – the space component of the United Arab Emirates’ new Earth observation system – into orbit.
Two operational goals for FalconEye
Flight VS24 was Arianespace’s third mission in 2020 with Soyuz.
FalconEye is equipped with a very-high-resolution Earth observation payload, complemented by a ground system for monitoring, receiving and processing images.
Once operational, it will serve two goals: supporting needs of the UAE Armed Forces; and providing commercial imagery.
As the FalconEye’s prime contractor, Airbus Defence and Space was in charge of the platform and satellite design, integration and testing. Co-prime contractor Thales Alenia Space designed and supplied the optical instrument as well as the image chain subsystem.
The Soyuz workhorse to low- and medium-Earth orbits
Tonight’s mission was designated Flight VS24 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system, signifying the 24th deployment of this medium-lift launcher from the Spaceport in French Guiana. It underscored Soyuz’ capability to serve low and medium orbits for Earth observation satellites and constellations – complementing Arianespace’s heavyweight Ariane 5 and the light-lift Vega launch vehicles.
Flight VS24 was the third with Soyuz for Arianespace in 2020: the two previous missions were carried out in February and March from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, orbiting OneWeb satellites.
Two more Arianespace Soyuz launches are planned before year-end: Flight ST29 from the new Russian launch site in Vostochny for OneWeb; and Flight VS25 from the Spaceport.