by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (ESA) Nov 30, 2012
A payload fairing not only performs the important role of protecting a launcher's passengers during ascent, it also provides an opportunity to put a spotlight on the spacecraft lofted during the mission. For Arianespace launches, placing logos related to the flights' passengers - and in certain cases, their associated organizations and countries - has become a tradition that is continued on the upcoming Soyuz and Ariane 5 missions currently being readied for liftoff from the Spaceport.
A large decal placed on the fairing for this Friday's Soyuz Flight VS04 incorporates a graphic representation of the mission's Pleiades 1B very-high-resolution optical imaging satellite.
Accompanying it are the logos of the French government, which initiated the program; and the country's CNES national space agency - the Pleiades system prime contractor.
Completing the Flight VS04 decal graphics is a line-up of flags for the program's five European participants: France, Austria, Belgium, Spain and Sweden.
On Arianespace's November 30 flight with the medium-lift Soyuz, the vehicle's 4.1-meter-diameter payload fairing will be jettisoned at 3 minutes, 29 seconds after liftoff.
This fairing encapsulates Pleiades 1B along with its Fregat upper stage - which will perform two burns to place the satellite into a 695-km. circular orbit during a mission lasting 55 minutes.
The larger 5-meter-diameter payload fairing for Arianespace's Flight VA211 mission with Ariane 5 on December 19 - which is to carry the Skynet 5D and Mexsat Bicentenario satellites - also has decals for its two spacecraft passengers.
Included in the horizontal decal for Mexsat Bicentenario is the logo for this Ku-/C-band telecommunications relay satellite, along with a symbol for Mexico's "Vivir Mejor" ("Live Better") campaign.
They are joined by a reference to the country's Ministry of Communications and Transportation (Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes), and the Mexican government seal.
The Ariane 5 payload fairing is jettisoned at approximately 3 minutes into the heavy-lift launcher's missions.
Launch Pad at Space-Travel.com
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