Europe delays maiden launch of Soyuz with sat-nav payload

Oct 20, 2011
A Russian Soyuz rocket is transfered to Arianespace's launch pad on October 14 at Europe's Spaceport launch site in Kourou, French Guiana.The maiden launch of a Russian-built Soyuz from Europe's space base, carrying the first satellites of a planned rival to the GPS, was scrubbed around two hours before liftoff, officials said.

Europe announced a 24-hour delay in the maiden launch Thursday of a Russian rocket laden with the first satellites in a rival scheme to America's GPS geopositioning system.

The first launch of the legendary Soyuz from Europe's space base was scrubbed some two hours before lift-off after a problem developed in fuelling the rocket's third stage, Arianespace said.

"We are going to make a new attempt tomorrow at 7:30 a.m.," the launch operator's chief executive, Jean-Yves Le Gall, told a press conference.

The operation depends on replacing a defective valve and on the freshness of the launch crews after a 24-hour postponement, he said.

Carrying the first satellites in the Galileo system, Europe's 5.4-billion-euro (7.2-billion-dollar) answer to the US Global Positioning System (GPS), the Soyuz had been set for a 7:34 a.m. (1034 GMT) liftoff.

The Soyuz VS01 rocket on launch pad at the Arianespace spaceport in Sinnamary, 12km from Kourou, French Guiana. Europe has announced a 24-hour delay in the maiden launch of a Russian rocket laden with the first satellites in a rival scheme to America's GPS geopositioning system.

It is the first launch under a 2003 deal to deploy the rocket beyond the historic Soyuz bases in Plesetsk, northern Russia, and Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

The contract is designed to harvest revenue for Russia's space industry and add a medium-weight lifter to Arianespace's heavy Ariane 5 and a future lightweight rocket, the Vega.

Galileo is designed to comprise 27 operational satellites and three spares by its completion in 2020.

It should be accurate to within a metre (3.25 feet), whereas the GPS is currently accurate to between three and eight metres (10 and 26 feet), according to official websites.

Soyuz is built at the Samara space complex on the banks of the Volga. Its journey to Kourou is a weeks-long odyssey by train to St. Petersburg, by special freighter across the Atlantic and finally by truck from the port of Pariacabo, on the Kourou river.

The rocket ranks alongside the Saturn V, which took the Apollo astronauts to the Moon, as the most famous launcher in space history.

Its heritage can be traced to the dawn of the space race in 1957 with the launch of Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin's first manned flight in 1961. It is still being built at the rate of 15 to 20 rockets per year.

All told, its family has notched up 1,776 launches, with a success rate of more than 94 percent.

From Kourou, Soyuz will be able to hoist 2.8 tonnes into geostatieonary transfer orbit, compared with 1.7 tonnes from Baikonur. The difference is explained by the extra push given by Earth's rotation at the Equator.

Explore further: SDO captures images of two mid-level flares

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Final checks for first Soyuz launch from Kourou

Oct 20, 2011

Launch directors on Thursday were running through the last checks for the maiden liftoff of Soyuz, the legendary Soviet-Russian rocket, from Europe's base in French Guiana.

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.

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.

Soyuz ready with Galileo satellites for milestone launch

Oct 14, 2011

International space cooperation will be highlighted in a historic event on 20 October: the launch of Europe’s first Galileo navigation satellites on Russia’s first Soyuz rocket to depart from Europe’s ...

Recommended for you

SDO captures images of two mid-level flares

Dec 19, 2014

The sun emitted a mid-level flare on Dec. 18, 2014, at 4:58 p.m. EST. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts ...

Why is Venus so horrible?

Dec 19, 2014

Venus sucks. Seriously, it's the worst. The global temperature is as hot as an oven, the atmospheric pressure is 90 times Earth, and it rains sulfuric acid. Every part of the surface of Venus would kill you ...

Image: Christmas wrapping the Sentinel-3A antenna

Dec 19, 2014

The moment a team of technicians, gowned like hospital surgeons, wraps the Sentinel-3A radar altimeter in multilayer insulation to protect it from the temperature extremes found in Earth orbit.

Video: Flying over Becquerel

Dec 19, 2014

This latest release from the camera on ESA's Mars Express is a simulated flight over the Becquerel crater, showing large-scale deposits of sedimentary material.

Spinning up a dust devil on Mars

Dec 19, 2014

Spinning up a dust devil in the thin air of Mars requires a stronger updraft than is needed to create a similar vortex on Earth, according to research at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

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.