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Soyuz is cleared for its second Arianespace launch from the Spaceport
by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (ESA) Dec 16, 2011

File image.

Arianespace's no. 2 Soyuz mission from French Guiana has been given the launch go-ahead, moving preparations into their final phase for a nighttime liftoff tomorrow with six satellite passengers.

This authorization followed the launch readiness review, which validated the mission-ready status of Soyuz, its satellite payloads, the Spaceport's ELS launch site, and the tracking network that is to follow the mission on its Sun-synchronous orbit deployment trajectory.

The review milestone is part of preparations for all Arianespace flights, and will be followed by a meeting at 4 hours, 20 minutes prior to liftoff that authorizes the Soyuz' fueling - a step included in the final mission approval process for the Russian-built launcher.

Soyuz' December 16 liftoff is scheduled precisely at 11:03:08 p.m. local time in French Guiana, initiating a 3-hour, 26-minute mission that will release the largest passenger - France's Pleiades 1 imaging spacecraft - first, followed by the simultaneous deployment of four French ELISA micro-satellites, and concluding with the separation of Chile's SSOT Earth observation platform.

The flight's payload lift performance is calculated at 2,191 kg., which includes approximately 1,400 kg. for the Pleiades 1, ELISA and SSOT satellites, along with the weight of a purpose-built payload dispenser and integration hardware.

Pleiades 1 has a liftoff mass of 970 kg., and will provide military and civilian users with optical satellite imagery that offers 50-cm. resolution imaging products at a coverage swath width of 20 km.

The four ELISA demonstrator satellites weigh 120 kg. each and will be used for electronic intelligence (ELINT) mapping of radars and other transmitters worldwide and the determination of their technical characteristics.

SSOT is a dual-role military/civilian spacecraft weighing 117 kg. at launch, and will perform missions that include mapping, agricultural monitoring, and the management of natural resources, disasters and risks.

Tomorrow's launch comes less than two months after Arianespace's historic introductory mission of Soyuz at the Spaceport, which occurred on October 21.

earlier related report
Launcher integration is complete for second Arianespace Soyuz launch campaign
Kourou, French Guiana (ESA) Dec 15, 2011 - The launcher for Arianespace's no. 2 Soyuz flight from French Guiana is now complete, following the integration of its "upper composite" containing the vehicle's Fregat upper stage, the mission's six satellite passengers and its protective payload fairing.

Mating of Soyuz' upper composite occurred yesterday inside a large mobile service gantry with the launcher in its vertical position.

This represents the major difference in Spaceport vehicle processing with the Russian-built medium-lift workhorse compared to Soyuz operations at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia - where the launcher's complete build-up and payload integration is handled horizontally.

All is now ready for final verifications and the countdown leading to Soyuz' liftoff from French Guiana on Friday, December 16 at 11:03:08 p.m. local time.

The payload of six passengers is composed of France's Pleiades 1 and the Chilean SSOT - both of which are Earth observation satellites developed for civilian and defense image-gathering, along with four French ELISA micro-satellite demonstrators for defense-related electronic intelligence gathering (ELINT).

The mission will be Arianespace's year-ending flight at the Spaceport, and comes less than two months after the company's historic maiden launch of Soyuz from French Guiana in October.

Also scheduled in 2011 is another Soyuz launch at Baikonur Cosmodrome with six Globalstar second-generation satellites, which is scheduled during the week of December 25, and will be conducted on behalf of Arianespace by its Starsem affiliate.

To date, Arianespace has logged seven missions in 2011. The five flights with its heavy-lift Ariane 5 during the year orbited eight telecommunications satellites (Arabsat-5C, ASTRA 1N, BSAT-3c/JCSAT-110R, GSAT-8, Intelsat New Dawn, SES-2, ST-2 and Yahsat Y1A), along with an Automated Transfer Vehicle for servicing of the International Space Station.

The year's other two launches were Soyuz missions, one operating from Baikonur Cosmodrome with six of the Globalstar second-generation satellites, and Arianespace's maiden flight of Soyuz from the Spaceport, which lofted two Galileo IOV (In-Orbit Validation) navigation satellites.

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