Arianespace’s first launch of the Soyuz rocket from the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in French Guiana will orbit the first two satellites in Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system. This mission, to be followed by the first launch of Europe’s Vega light launcher in 2012, signals the introduction of the most complete family of commercial launch services in history.
The Launch will occur October 20, 2012 at 6:34 AM EST. Launch will be live in the window below. Hopefully I am not too late!
We will be broadcasting on Twitter as well (http://twitter.com/arianespace) for the “Live tweet” of the Soyuz mission from 3:00 am EST. Please feel free to follow us to be a part of this histroric moment.
With the Soyuz launcher operating out of the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, Arianespace will be the only launch services provider in the world capable of launching all types of payloads to all orbits,from the smallest to the largest geostationary satellites, along with clusters of satellites for constellations and missions to support the International Space Station.
The Soyuz at CSG program carries on the long-standing partnership between France and Russia, one that kicked off in 1996 with the creation of the joint venture Starsem to operate the Soyuz launcher at Baikonur. This strategic partnership gives Europe a medium launch vehicle, while allowing Russia to increase the number of Soyuz launches. A total of 23 successful Soyuz commercial launches have already been performed at the Baikonur cosmodrome, and three more are still scheduled in 2011-2012. All versions of the Soyuz launcher have carried out 1,776 missions to date, from both Russia and
The European Space Agency (ESA) first began studying the possibility of Soyuz launches from the Guiana Space Center in early 1998, and officially started this program in 2004. Construction work in French Guiana kicked off in 2005 and the first Russian components started arriving in 2008.
ESA named French space agency CNES prime contractor for this project, overseeing the development and qualification of the Soyuz launch complex (ELS) at the Guiana Space Center. Russian space agency Roscosmos was in charge of the Russian segment of the program, and also coordinated the work of all Russian companies involved.
Arianespace managed the supply of Russian systems and coordinated the work by Russian companies during the development phase. The Â«Soyuz at CSGÂ» program is already a business success, with Arianespace having won 14 launch contracts even before the first launch.
On its first mission from CSG, Soyuz will place the Galileo IOV-1 PFM and FM2 (In Orbit Validation) satellites, named Tiis and Natalia, into circular orbit at an altitude of 23,000 kilometers. The satellites were built by a consortium led by Astrium GmbH.
Arianespace and its subsidiary Starsem earlier orbited the experimental satellites Giove-A and Giove-B, enabling Galileo to secure its allocated frequencies.