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December 12, 2010
Assembly and checkout of the second Soyuz has been completed in French Guiana, providing additional hands-on experience in preparing and processing the Russian-built vehicle ahead of Arianespace’s introduction of this medium-lift launcher at the Spaceport.
The Block I third stage is mated with the no. 2 Soyuz at the Spaceport. This activity occurred inside the new Launcher Integration Building created for the medium-lift vehicle’s operations from French Guiana
The Soyuz’ three basic stages were integrated and tested as part of regular maintenance checks for launchers that are stored while awaiting their turn for liftoff.
During activity in the Spaceport’s new Launcher Integration Building for Soyuz, the vehicle’s four first-stage strap-on boosters were installed on the Block A core second stage, followed by integration of the Block I third stage. With this build-up activity and related testing completed, the Soyuz is now being disassembled for its return to storage.
Artist's view of the Soyuz-2 launch-pad area in Guiana
It marks the second time a Soyuz has been built up at the Spaceport, following a similar process with the no. 1 vehicle earlier this year. Both launchers were shipped to French Guiana from Russia in November 2009.
“This activity has provided our teams an excellent opportunity to validate the integration and checkout process ahead of the startup of Soyuz missions next year,” said Bruno Gerard, Arianespace’s project head for Soyuz at the Spaceport.
The European Launcher's Family
Soyuz launch operations at the Spaceport will differ from the traditional process flow employed at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia, where the complete integration of launchers and their payloads is handled in the integration building while the launcher is oriented horizontally.
At the Spaceport, Soyuz vehicles will have their first, second and third stages assembled horizontally in the Launcher Integration Building, followed by their transfer to the launch pad and erection to the vertical position for mating of the payload.
The Soyuz’ upper composite – composed of its Fregat upper stage, the mission payload and the protective fairing – will be assembled separately in the Spaceport’s S3B payload preparation building, then transferred to the launch pad for installation atop the launcher. During this activity, the launcher will be protected by a mobile gantry that has been purpose-built for operations at the Spaceport.
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Images, Video, Text, Credits: Arianespace / ESA / ROSCOSMOS.
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