First Soyuz launch from Kourou to go ahead: Arianespace

Aug 25, 2011

The maiden flight of a Soyuz from Europe's space base will go ahead as scheduled on October 20, as it is a different version from the rocket involved in Wednesday's launch failure by Russia, Arianespace said on Thursday.

"The problem that occurred yesterday is linked to a third-stage motor, and the Soyuz model that we will be using uses a different third stage," Jean-Yves Le Gall, president and chief executive of the launch company, told AFP.

"It is not the same version of the rocket."

The European Space Agency (ESA) and Russia are deploying Soyuz at Kourou, French Guiana, under a 2003 accord to provide a mid-sized launcher for Arianespace, which markets ESA's launch vehicles.

The model that will be deployed there is a Soyuz-ST, a spinoff of the Soyuz-2. It is designed to take nearly three tonnes into geostationary transfer orbit.

Its first flight will lift the first two satellites in Europe's Galileo navigation system, the competitor to the US Global Positioning System (GPS).

"In principle, the launch date of October 20 is confirmed, because the Soyuz being used for Galileo is not impacted by yesterday's failure," said Le Gall.

An unnamed Russian official told the Interfax news agency on Thursday that "the launch of Soyuz carrier rockets" had been suspended until the loss of a unmanned craft taking cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) had been explained.

The move has caused a ripple of concern for the crew of the ISS, as the Soyuz, a workhorse of space for half a century, is used both as a launcher for cargo and for passenger vehicles.

If the Soyuz-launched Progress freigher is out of operation, that will leave the ISS with ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) and Japan's H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV).

The latest ATV, Edoardo Amaldi, is currently being brought by ship to Kourou.

"Its scheduled launch is February 28 2012," said Le Gall, who said there was "a small margin" for bringing it forward if need be, but this would only be by a few days given the tight schedule.

The ISS has capsules moored to the station enabling all crew onboard to return to Earth, either on scheduled missions or in an emergency.

Explore further: What is the newest planet?

Related Stories

Soyuz launch from Europe space base set for October

May 10, 2011

The maiden launch of the veteran Soviet-Russian rocket Soyuz from Europe's space base in South America has been scheduled for October, a spokesman for launch operators Arianespace said on Tuesday.

Arianespace says it plans 12 launches in 2011

Jan 04, 2011

Arianespace said on Tuesday that it planned 10 launches in 2011, including six of its Ariane 5 rockets and the first Russian Soyuz rockets from the European space base in French Guiana beginning in August.

Galileo's Soyuz launchers arrive at French Guiana

Jun 22, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The two Soyuz launchers that will fly the first four satellites of Europe’s Galileo navigation system into orbit have arrived at Kourou harbour in French Guiana, completing a journey ...

Recommended for you

What is the newest planet?

45 minutes ago

With astronomers discovering new planets and other celestial objects all the time, you may be wondering what the newest planet to be discovered is. Well, that depends on your frame of reference. If we are ...

Catching Earth at aphelion

55 minutes ago

Do you feel a littleā€¦ distant today? The day after the 4th of July weekend brings with it the promise of barbecue leftovers and discount fireworks. It also sees our fair planet at aphelion, or its farthest ...

Opportunity's 7th Mars winter to include new study area

1 hour ago

Operators of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity plan to drive the rover into a valley this month where Opportunity will be active through the long-lived rover's seventh Martian winter, examining outcrops ...

Dawn holding in second mapping orbit

1 hour ago

NASA's Dawn spacecraft is healthy and stable, after experiencing an anomaly in the system that controls its orientation. It is still in its second mapping orbit 2,700 miles (4,400 kilometers) above dwarf ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.