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Thu, May 13, 2010

It's A Russian-Designed Spacecraft, But It's A Long Way From Russia

1st Soyuz Undergoes An Initial Assembly Checkout At The Arianespace's Spaceport

The first Soyuz to be assembled in French Guiana is undergoing its initial assembly checkout, in preparation for Arianespace's maiden commercial flight from the Spaceport in French Guiana later this year. The activity is part of a regular maintenance check that is standard for Soyuz launchers in storage awaiting liftoff, and the build-up process also is being used to qualify assembly procedures in the Spaceport's new Launcher Integration Building for the Russian-built medium-lift workhorse.

 
Arianespace Soyuz Payload

This is one of two Soyuz 2-1a vehicles that were delivered to French Guiana last November, and it is scheduled for launch before the end of 2010 with the HYLAS telecommunications satellite for Avanti Communications.

Along with the payload, the no. 1 Soyuz launcher at the Spaceport in French Guiana has completed the first step of its initial build-up, with all four of the vehicle's first stage strap-on boosters now mated to the Block A core second stage.

The launcher's current build-up is part of regular maintenance checks that are typical for Soyuz vehicles in storage awaiting liftoff, and the integration also is being used to qualify assembly processes in the Spaceport's new Launcher Integration Building. These procedures are similar to those used for decades in Soyuz operations from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia, with more than 1,750 flights performed to date from those facilities.

 
Arianespace Soyuz Booster

With completion of the boosters' mating to the no. 1 Soyuz' Block A stage on Saturday, May 8 at the Spaceport, pneumatic testing of this integrated portion of the launcher is now underway. The next step will be installation of the Soyuz' Block I third stage, enabling electrical testing to be performed with the launcher's three assembled stages.

The launcher being built-up is one of two Soyuz 2-1a vehicles delivered to the Spaceport last November, and its is scheduled to be used on the maiden flight from French Guiana - carrying the HYLAS 1 telecommunications satellite for Avanti Communications.

 
Arianespace Soyuz Launch Facility

Once Soyuz joins Arianespace's launcher family, this vehicle will have the unique distinction of operating from three sites worldwide: at the Spaceport in French Guiana for Arianespace's commercial missions, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, and at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.

FMI: www.arianespace.com
 


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