Soyuz at the Guiana Space Centre

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Soyuz ST (Guiana Space Centre)
Galileo launch on Soyuz, 21 Oct 2011 (6266227357).jpg
Inaugural launch
Function Provide Arianespace with a medium-class launch vehicle to compliment the light Vega and heavy Ariane 5
Manufacturer Progress State Research and Production Rocket Space Center, NPO Lavochkin
Country of origin Russia
Height 46.2 m (152 ft)
Diameter 10.3 m (34 ft)
Mass 308 t (303 long tons; 340 short tons)
Stages 3
Payload to GTO 3,250 kg (7,170 lb)
Payload to GEO 1,440 kg (3,170 lb)
Payload to SSO 4,400 kg (9,700 lb)[1]:43
Associated rockets
Family Soyuz 2 (R-7)
Launch history
Status Active
Launch sites Guiana Space Centre
Total launches 18
Successes 17
Failures 0
Partial failures 1
First flight 21 October 2011[2]
No. boosters 4[1]:21
Length 19.6 m (64 ft)
Diameter 2.68 m (8 ft 10 in)
Empty mass 3,784 kg (8,342 lb)
Gross mass 44,413 kg (97,914 lb)
Engines 1 RD-107A
Thrust 838.5 kN (188,500 lbf)
Specific impulse 262s
Burn time 118s
Fuel LOX / Kerosene
Core stage
Length 27.1 m (89 ft)
Diameter 2.95 m (9 ft 8 in)
Empty mass 6,545 kg (14,429 lb)
Gross mass 99,765 kg (219,944 lb)
Engines 1 RD-108A
Thrust 792.5 kN (178,200 lbf)
Specific impulse 255s
Burn time 286s
Fuel LOX / Kerosene
Second stage (ST-B)
Length 6.7 m (22 ft)
Diameter 2.66 m (8 ft 9 in)
Empty mass 2,355 kg (5,192 lb)
Gross mass 27,755 kg (61,189 lb)
Engines 1 RD-0124
Thrust 297.9 kN (67,000 lbf)
Specific impulse 359s
Burn time 270s
Fuel LOX / Kerosene
Upper stage – Fregat
Length 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in)
Diameter 3.35 m (11.0 ft)
Empty mass 920 kg (2,030 lb)
Gross mass 7,558 kg (16,663 lb)
Engines S5.92
Thrust 19.85 kN (4,460 lbf) / 14 kN (3,100 lbf)
Specific impulse 332s
Burn time up to 1100s (maximum 20 burns)
Fuel N2O4 / UDMH

Soyuz at the Guiana Space Centre (also known as Soyuz at CSG or Arianespace Soyuz) is an ongoing ESA programme for operating Soyuz-ST launch vehicles from Guiana Space Centre (CSG), providing medium-size launch capability for Arianespace to accompany the light Vega and heavy-lift Ariane 5.[3] The Soyuz vehicle is supplied by the Russian Federal Space Agency with TsSKB-Progress and NPO Lavochkin, while additional components are supplied by Airbus, Thales Group and RUAG.[1]:28–30

The Arianespace Soyuz project was announced by the ESA in 2002. Cooperation with Russia began in two areas: construction of a launch site for Soyuz in CSG and development of the Soyuz launch vehicle modified for the Guiana Space Centre. A Programme Declaration was signed in 2003 and funding along with final approval was granted on 4 February 2005.[4][5] Initial excavation for the Ensemble de Lancement Soyouz (ELS; Soyuz Launch Complex) began in 2005, construction started in 2007, and the launch complex was completed in early 2011,[6] allowing Arianespace to offer launch services on the modified Soyuz ST-B to its clients.[1][7] Two early flights, VS02 and VS04, and a recent flight, VS17, used the Soyuz ST-A variant.[8][9][10] Since 2011, Arianespace has ordered a total of 23 Soyuz rockets, enough to cover its needs until 2019 at a pace of three to four launches per year.[11][12]:10

Features of modified Soyuz for the Guiana Space Centre[edit]

  • First use of a mobile service tower at the ELS that enabled vertical payload integration.[1]
  • European supplied payload adapters.[1]
  • European supplied KSE (French: Kit de Sauvegarde Européenne, lit. 'European Safeguard Kit'), a system to locate and transmit a flight termination signal.[1] It would activate the engine shutdown command and leave the vehicle in a ballistic trajectory.[13]
  • Adaptation of the S-Band telemetry system on all stages from the 5 TM bands available at Baikonur, and Plesetsk to the 3 allowed at the GSC range.[1]
  • Adaptation of the S-Band telemetry coding and frequency to the IRIG standard used at GSC.[1]
  • Adaptation of the oxygen purge system for directing to the outside of the mobile gantry.[1]
  • Adaptation to the tropical GSC climate including the adaptation of the air conditioning system to local specifications and protective measures to avoid icing.[1] All holes and cavities were studied and certified to be adequately protected against intrusion of insects and rodent.[13]
  • The four boosters and the core stage were upgraded with pyrotechnic devices to breach the fuel tanks to assure that they would sink in the ocean. The other stages were shown to lose structural integrity on impact and thus proven to sink.[13]
  • At least initially, the boosters and core stage would use the pyrotechnically ignited 14D22 (RD-107A) and 14D23 (RD-108A) rather than the chemically ignited 14D22 kHz and 14D23 kHz used on the rest of the Soyuz-2.[13]

Vehicle processing[edit]

Soyuz components arrive at the CSG via ship, and are unloaded and placed in a storage area. From there, the components are brought to the Launch Vehicle Integration Building where they're assembled horizontally in an air-conditioned environment. First four boosters are attached to the core stage, and then third stage is attached to the core – identical to the procedure at Baikonur and Plesetsk Cosmodrome. Separately, the payload is mounted on a dispenser in a Payload Processing Facility and then transferred into the S3B building to be mounted to the Fregat upper stage and then encapsulated in a fairing. Subsequently, the first 3 stages of the Soyuz-ST are transported from the Integration Building to the launch pad by a train which also erects the rocket to the vertical position at the pad, where Soyuz is suspended by four support arms. Once vertical, a mobile gantry moves in and encloses Soyuz. Following that the encapsulated Fregat and payload is lifted vertically by a mobile gantry to be mounted on top of Soyuz. The Mobile Gantry is retracted an hour before the launch.[14][15][16][17][18]

Future developments[edit]

Arianespace plans to operate Soyuz until at least the end of 2019, and as of 2014 intended to continue operating Soyuz alongside the planned Ariane 6 when that launcher makes its debut.[11][19] However, the announcement of new Ariane 6 designs from Airbus and Safran opens the possibility of Ariane 6.2 replacing Soyuz.[20]

Launch history[edit]

Inaugural flight[edit]

The first contract for the launch of Soyuz ST-B from Guiana Space Centre was signed at the 2009 Paris Air Show by the Director of the Galileo Programme and Navigation-related Activities René Oosterlinck and a CEO of Arianespace Jean-Yves Le Gall. This contract covered 2 launches of two Galileo satellites each.[21] The contract for the satellites themselves had already been signed by ESA and Galileo Industries in 2006.[22]

Launch vehicle components shipped from Saint Petersburg first arrived in French Guiana by ship in November 2009.[23] The Soyuz Launch Site acceptance review took place during the last week of March 2011, leading to the first simulated launch campaign between 29 April and 4 May.[6][24] The launch site was officially handed over from ESA to the Arianespace on 7 May 2011.[25]

Assembly of the Soyuz ST-B begun on 12 September 2011 in the Assembly and Testing building, while two Galileo satellites underwent final tests after their arrival from Thales Alenia Space facilities in Italy on 7 and 14 September.[26] The launch was planned for 20 October, however an anomaly was detected in the pneumatic system responsible for disconnecting the fuel lines from Soyuz third stage, forcing the mission to be postponed for 24 hours. On 21 October 2011, 7:30 local time, Soyuz ST-B took off for its inaugural, 3 hour 49 minute, flight,[27] making it the first time Soyuz was launched outside of the former Soviet Union territory.[28]

Flight VS09[edit]

On 22 August 2014 Arianespace launched the first two Full Operational Capability satellites for the Galileo satellite navigation constellation into Medium Earth orbit.[29] The mission appeared to proceed normally and Arianespace reported the launch to be a success, however analysis of telemetry data provided by ESA and CNES tracking stations showed that the satellites were injected into an incorrect orbit.[30]

Orbit Inclination Eccentricity
Targeted 23,222 km x 23,222 km 55.0° 0
Achieved 25,900 km x 13,713 km 49.8° 0.23

The orbit was determined by the European Space Operations Centre within 3 hours after the separation from launcher, and the satellites were operating normally and under control.[31] Both satellites were switched to safe mode, pointing at the sun while both ESA/CNES and OHB teams investigated the failure and options for the satellites.[32] On 25 August Arianespace announced the creation of an independent inquiry commission to investigate the anomaly.[33] On 28 August details emerged on the events that most likely led to the Fregat failure. At the end of the re-orientation phase the flight control system detected an incorrect angular speed and unsuccessfully attempted to use thrusters to correct the situation. The flight control system did not detect the thruster issue and continued the flight plan with the upper stage oriented in a wrong direction, leaving the satellites in an incorrect orbit.[34]

In late September the Roscosmos commission report, quoted by Izvestia, indicated that the Fregat failure was due to a design flaw leading to freezing in one of the hydrazine propellant lines, which was placed alongside a line carrying cold helium used for pressurization of the main propellant tanks. During the long first burn required for Galileo orbital insertion the propellant line was cooled to below the freezing point of hydrazine. Further investigations were focused on the software error and a means to prevent similar failures in future. Izvestia also reported that the failure of flight VS09 caused a serious reaction in Russian government. Oleg Ostapenko, Head of Roscosmos, had a "difficult conversation in the (Moscow) White House".[35][36]

On 7 October 2014 the Independent Inquiry Board announced the conclusions of its investigation, revealing that a proximity of helium and hydrazine feed lines resulted in a thermal bridge that caused an interruption of propellant supply to the thrusters. Ambiguities in the design documents allowing this to happen were a result of not taking into account thermal transfers in the thermal analyses of the stage system design. Board recommended 3 corrective actions: Revamping thermal analysis, correcting design documents and modification of manufacture, assembly, integration and inspection procedures of the supply lines.[37]

In November, ESA announced the satellites will perform a total of 15 orbital maneuvers to raise their perigee to 17,339 km. This will reduce the satellites' exposure to the Van Allen radiation belt, reduce the Doppler effect, increase satellite visibility from the ground, and allow the satellites to keep their antennas pointed at Earth during perigee. These orbits will repeat the same ground track every 20 days, allowing synchronization with other Galileo satellites which repeat the same ground track every 10 days. Once in their new orbits the satellites can begin in-orbit testing.[38]

Recovery of the satellites concluded in March 2015, when Galileo-FOC FM2 entered a new orbit, mirrored to the orbit of Galileo-FOC FM1, which concluded its manoeuvres on the end of November 2014 and successfully passed testing. Currently satellites overfly the same location on the ground every 20 days, comparing to 10 days of standard Galileo satellites.[39]


& time (local time)
Flight Payload Payload mass Orbit Result No.
2011-10-21 07:30:26 VS01[2] Galileo IOV-1/2 1,580 kg (3,480 lb) MEO Success 1
2011-12-16 23:03:48 VS02[40] Pleiades 1, SSOT, 4 x ELISA 2,191 kg (4,830 lb) SSO Success 2
2012-10-12 15:15:01 VS03[41] Galileo IOV-3/4 1,580 kg (3,480 lb) MEO Success 3
2012-12-01 23:02:50 VS04[42] Pléiades 1B 1,070 kg (2,360 lb) SSO Success 4
2013-06-25 16:27:03 VS05[43] O3b F1 3,204 kg (7,064 lb) MEO Success 5
2013-12-19 06:12:19 VS06[44] Gaia 2,105 kg (4,641 lb) L2 Success 6
2014-04-03 18:02:26 VS07[45] Sentinel-1A 2,272 kg (5,009 lb) SSO Success 7
2014-07-10 15:55:56 VS08[46] O3b F2 3,204 kg (7,064 lb) MEO Success 8
2014-08-22 09:27:11 VS09[29] Galileo FOC FM1/FM2 1,607 kg (3,543 lb) MEO Partial failure[47] 9
2014-12-18 15:37:00 VS10[48] O3b F3 3,184 kg (7,020 lb) MEO Success 10
2015-03-27 18:46:19 VS11[49] Galileo FOC FM3/FM4 1,597 kg (3,521 lb) MEO Success 11
2015-09-11 23:08:10 VS12[50] Galileo FOC FM5/FM6 1,601 kg (3,530 lb) MEO Success 12
2015-12-17 08:51:56 VS13[51] Galileo FOC FM8/FM9 1,603 kg (3,534 lb) MEO Success 13
2016-04-25 18:02:13 VS14[52] Sentinel-1B,[53] MICROSCOPE, 3 CubeSats 3,099 kg (6,832 lb) SSO Success 14
2016-05-24 05:48:43 VS15[54] Galileo FOC FM10/FM11 1,599 kg (3,525 lb) MEO Success 15
2017-01-27 22:03:34 VS16 Hispasat 36W-1 3,200 kg (7,100 lb) GTO Success 16
2017-05-18 08:54:53 VS17[55] SES-15 2,302 kg (5,075 lb) GTO Success 17
2018-03-09 14:10:06 VS18[56] O3b F4 2,800 kg (6,200 lb) MEO Success 18

All times above are local times in French-Guyana (UTC −3)

Scheduled flights[edit]

& time (local time)
Flight Payload Payload mass Targeted
Result No.
2018 (TBD) MetOp-C[57] SSO Planned 19
2018 (TBD) OneWeb × 10 LEO Planned 20
Late 2018 (TBD) CHEOPS, COSMO-SkyMed[58] SSO Planned 21


Flights by Mission Result

  Success     Failure     Partial Failure   Scheduled  

Soyuz launch statistics from Guiana as of May 2017. Source: data from wikitable Missions, wikitable Scheduled flights and Arianespace website.

Launch sequence[edit]

Launch complex with withdrawn mobile gantry

Typically, operations 3 days before launch include countdown rehearsal for all stages as well as final preparations and verification of the Fregat upper stage. Two days before launch preparations for fueling begin. This is also the last day when pre-launch activity with the payload can occur.[59] The launch sequence is optimized for each mission, the sequence described here is based on flight VS07 which lifted the Sentinel-1A satellite:[18][60]

T Minus Event Altitude
T- 06:30:00 Mission control team B on a console, beginning of a network countdown
T- 04:50:00 State Commission meeting giving fueling authorization
T- 04:00:00 Beginning of fueling
T- 03:00:00 Payload switched to pre-launch mode
T- 02:20:00 Readiness report
T- 01:45:00 End of fueling
T- 01:21:00 GO / NO-GO roll-call
T- 01:00:00 Mobile gantry withdrawal
T- 00:10:00 Payload switches to onboard power supply
T- 00:06:10 Beginning of autosequence
T- 00:05:00 Fregat switches to onboard power supply
T- 00:01:00 Activation of automatic launch sequence
T- 00:00:40 Launcher switches to onboard power supply
T- 00:00:20 Lower stage umbilical mast withdrawal
T- 00:00:17 Main engine ignition
T- 00:00:15 Preliminary thrust level
T- 00:00:03 Maximum thrust level
T+ 00:00:00 Liftoff
T+ 00:01:11 Max Q
T+ 00:01:58 Boosters separation 60 km (37 mi)
T+ 00:03:29 Fairing separation 120 km (75 mi)
T+ 00:04:47 2nd stage separation 240 km (150 mi)
T+ 00:04:48 2nd stage ignition
T+ 00:04:53 Aft section separation (connects 1st with 2nd stage)
T+ 00:08:46 Fregat upper stage separation
T+ 00:09:46 Fregat ignition 410 km (250 mi)
T+ 00:20:04 Fregat shutdown
T+ 00:23:29 Payload separation 693 km (431 mi)


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