. Space Travel News .

Final checks for first Soyuz launch from Kourou
by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (AFP) 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 is due to lift off at 7:34 a.m. (1034 GMT) on Thursday, carrying the first satellites in the Galileo project, Europe's 5.4-billion-euro (7.2-billion-dollar) answer to the US Global Positioning System (GPS).

The rocket's heritage can be traced to the dawn of the space race in 1957 with the launch of Sputnik. 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 geostationary transfer orbit, compared with 1.7 tonnes from Baikonur. The big difference in payload is explained by the extra push given by Earth's rotation at the Equator.

The first operational Galileo satellites, with a payload of 1.58 tonnes, will be placed in a circular orbit at an altitude of more than 23,000 kilometres (14,000 miles).

After a nine minute, 20 second flight that will see the rocket's three lower stages burn their fuel and fall away one by one, the "Fregat" upper stage should light up to take the satellites on their final leg, due to last three hours, 20 minutes.

Thursday's launch is the first under a 2003 deal to deploy the rocket beyond its bases in Plesetsk, in northern Russia, and Baikonur, in Kazakhstan.

The contract is designed to bring in revenue for Russia's space industry and provide a dependable medium-weight lifter for satellite launch operator Arianespace alongside the heavy Ariane 5, and a future lightweight rocket, the Vega.

Soyuz so far has orders for 14 launches from Kourou. Next year, it will take up the next two satellites in the Galileo constellation, which will comprise 30 satellites -- 27 in operation and three spares -- when it is completed in 2020.

Galileo should be accurate to within a metre (3.25 feet), whereas the US Global Positioning System (GPS), which became operational in 1995 and is being upgraded, is currently accurate to between three and eight metres (10 and 26 feet), according to official websites.

A site has been specially built for Soyuz 12 kilometres (eight miles) from the Ariane launchpad here. It includes a 52-metre (169-feet) -high gantry and the ability to be adapted for human spaceflight if need be.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is screening the launch live from 0930 GMT (http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMZOFFURTG_index_0.html).

Related Links
Launch Pad at Space-Travel.com

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Russia blames scientists for rocket crashes
Moscow (AFP) Oct 18, 2011
Russia's chief prosecutor on Tuesday blamed a recent spate of disasters threatening the future of the International Space Station (ISS) on negligence by the country's underpaid rocket scientists. A probe into the August 24 crash of the unmanned Progress cargo ship and an August 18 error that put Russia's biggest satellite in the wrong orbit blamed both mishaps on the state-run Roskosmos spac ... read more

SpaceX Completes Key Milestone to Fly Astronauts to International Space Station

Europe delays maiden launch of Soyuz with sat-nav payload

ILS Proton Launches ViaSat-1 for ViaSat

Final checks for first Soyuz launch from Kourou

Scientists develope new way to determine when water was present on Mars and Earth

Mars Rover Carries Device for Underground Scouting

Mars Landing-Site Specialist

New Mystery on Mars's Forgotten Plains

Lunar Probe to search for water on Moon

Subtly Shaded Map of Moon Reveals Titanium Treasure Troves

NASA's Moon Twins Going Their Own Way

Titanium treasure found on Moon

Dwarf planet may not be bigger than Pluto

Series of bumps sent Uranus into its sideways spin

Mission to Mysterious Uranus

Spinning hourglass object may be the first of many to be discovered in the Kuiper belt

NASA's Spitzer Detects Comet Storm In Nearby Solar System

Photo Reveals Planet-Size Object as Cool as Earth

Spiral Arms Point to Possible Planets in a Star's Dusty Disk

UChicago launches search for distant worlds

The Spark Of A New Era Was A Blast For Rocket Science

Caltech Event Marks 75th Anniversary of JPL Rocket Tests

Russia puts new Rus-M carrier rocket project on hold

Russia to abandon rocket booster work

China's first space lab module in good condition

Takeoff For Tiangong

Snafu as China space launch set to US patriotic song

Civilians given chance to reach for the stars

Formation of Scheila's Triple Dust Tails Explained

NASA's Dawn Science Team Presents Early Science Results

Amateur skywatchers help space hazards team

New View of Vesta Mountain From NASA's Dawn Mission


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement