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Soyuz December 27, 2006

Successful mission by Starsem and Arianespace orbits COROT science satellite

On Wednesday afternoon, December 27, Arianespace and Starsem successfully launched the stellar observation satellite COROT for French space agency CNES.

The 1,717th launch of a Soyuz family launch vehicle took place from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Soyuz-Fregat 2-1b version of the launcher lifted off as scheduled at 8:23 p.m. local time on December 27, 2006 (14:23 UTC, 3:23 p.m. in Paris).

Arianespace, Starsem and their Russian partners confirmed that the launcher’s Fregat upper stage accurately injected the COROT satellite into its targeted circular polar orbit. Two successive burns of the Fregat upper stage were carried out for this mission, placing the Corot spacecraft into its polar orbit at an altitude of 896 kilometers, 50 minutes after liftoff.

Debut of the Soyuz 2-1b

The COROT satellite launch was performed under the responsibility of Arianespace and Starsem, using for the first time the Soyuz 2-1b launch vehicle. This new version features a more powerful third-stage engine, as well as a digital control system, like the 2-1a version. The latest version of the launcher will be an integral part of the project to operate Soyuz rockets from the Guiana Space Center.

COROT, a world first in space astronomy

The COROT satellite, which weighed 630 kg at launch, is a space observatory designed to study stars and search for new planets. It was built by Alcatel Alenia Space using the Proteus multimission platform. A world first, this scientific mission has two primary objectives: studying the internal structure of stars, and detecting planets outside our solar system.

Today’s successful Soyuz launch clearly reflects the industrial capabilities of the Samara Space Center (TsSKB-Progress), as well as the efficiency of the teams in charge of Soyuz operations, working under the authority of the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

Starsem is responsible for international marketing of the Soyuz launch vehicle, as well as its operation. Starsem’s shareholders are Arianespace, EADS, the Russian space agency Roscosmos and the Samara Space Center (TsSKB-Progress).

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