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LAUNCH PAD
Pleiades 1B joins its launcher at the Spaceport for Arianespace's Soyuz mission in November
by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (ESA) Oct 26, 2012


File image of the first Soyuz launcher on the pad at Kourou.

Activities for Arianespace's fourth medium-lift Soyuz flight from the Spaceport is fully underway as the Pleiades 1B payload has now arrived in French Guiana - joining the mission's launcher, which is well advanced in its preparations.

The dual-use, very-high-resolution satellite was delivered this week by a Boeing 747 cargo aircraft to Felix Eboue Airport near the capital city of Cayenne, where it was unloaded for transfer by road to the Spaceport.

Pleiades 1B will be orbited on a late-night November 30 flight from the ELS launch complex at the Spaceport, where the basic three-stage Soyuz vehicle already has been built up inside the MIK assembly building. Elsewhere at the Spaceport, the launcher's Fregat upper stage is now undergoing its fueling process in the S3B processing building.

The November flight - designated VS04 in Arianespace's mission numbering system - will mark the fourth Soyuz liftoff from French Guiana since this medium-lift vehicle's service entry in October 2011.

Its Pleiades 1B payload is designed to provide optical observation coverage with 50-centimeter resolution for the French and Spanish defense ministries, civil institutions, and private users. Operating from a 695-km. quasi-polar heliosynchronous orbit, it will accompany the twin Pleiades 1A spacecraft launched last December on Arianespace's VS02 Soyuz mission from the Spaceport.

The Astrium division of EADS built both Pleiades satellites for the French CNES space agency, which is prime contractor and system architect. They are based on smaller, cheaper, more agile platforms than their predecessors - the highly-successful Spot satellite series, which was launched on Ariane family launchers by Arianespace beginning in 1986.

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LAUNCH PAD
Another Ariane 5 Enters Launch Campaign Queue
Kourou, French Guiana (ESA) Oct 11, 2012
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