The Soyuz for Arianespace’s next VS11 mission is in the launch zone at French Guiana, where it stands ready to receive the two Galileo satellites.
Applying procedures that have been followed since the workhorse Soyuz launcher inaugurated the Space Age, the basic three-stage vehicle for March 27 flight emerged today from its MIK integration building in the Spaceport’s northwestern sector (Soyuz site at Europe’s Spaceport).
Riding horizontally on a transporter/erector rail car, Soyuz was transferred to the ELS launch zone, which was followed by its erection to the vertical orientation and positioning over the launch pad, suspended in place by four large support arms.
With this step completed, all was ready for the purpose-built 53-meter-tall mobile gantry to be moved into position around the launcher, a phase of the processing in French Guiana that differs from Soyuz operations at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia. The gantry provides a protected environment for installation of the “upper composite,” which consists of the two Galileo spacecraft, the Soyuz’ Fregat upper stage and a two-piece protective payload fairing. Total payload lift performance is estimated at 1597 kg, which includes a combined mass of some 1428 kg for the two spacecraft.