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LAUNCH PAD
Pleiades 1B is ready for integration in the payload "stack" for Arianespace's next Soyuz mission
by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (ESA) Nov 22, 2012


File image: Pleiades 1B.

The Pleiades 1B satellite passenger for Arianespace's fourth Soyuz flight from French Guiana is ready for integration into the medium-lift launcher's payload "stack" at the Spaceport.

This dual-use, very-high-resolution imaging satellite has been transferred from the S5 payload preparation center - where it was fueled with hydrazine - to the Spaceport's S3B processing building for the integration process.

The S3B facility has been configured for preparation of the payload stack on Soyuz launchers operated from the Spaceport, with this component consisting of the mission's spacecraft payload, the Fregat upper stage, and an ST-type fairing that provides protection during initial ascent through the atmosphere.

Fueling of the Fregat upper stage for Arianespace's upcoming Soyuz flight was completed in the S3B building earlier this month, and this highly flexible orbital system has now been installed in an integration stand - ready to receive Pleiades 1B, followed by the payload fairing encapsulation.

Pleiades 1B will be lofted by Soyuz on a November 30 nighttime flight, marking the fourth Soyuz liftoff from French Guiana since this medium-lift vehicle's service entry at the Spaceport in October 2011 - and the second performed by Arianespace this year.

The upcoming mission is designated VS04 in the company's numbering system for its launcher family operating from the Spaceport, consisting of the medium-lift Soyuz, heavy-lift Ariane 5, and light-lift Vega.

With a fueled mass of approximately 1 metric ton, Pleiades 1B is to provide optical observation coverage for the French and Spanish defense ministries, civil institutions and private users.

It will operate from a 695-km. heliosynchronous orbit, joining the twin Pleiades 1A spacecraft that was launched by Arianespace last December on Soyuz' second mission from the Spaceport.

France's CNES space agency is the Pleiades prime contractor and system architect, which selected the Astrium division of EADS to build the satellites.

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