Arianespace / ESA - Pleiades 1B / Soyuz Flight VS04 poster.
December 2, 2012
Soyuz rocket with Pleiades 1B "aboard" ready for launch
The maturity of Arianespace’s Soyuz launch system at French Guiana – and its confirmed role as a full-fledged member of the company’s launcher family – were demonstrated once again tonight’s successful orbiting of the Pléiades 1B satellite from the Spaceport.
Launch of Pleiades 1B on Soyuz-STA from French Guiana
The fourth Soyuz rocket from Kourou in French Guiana launched today, December 2nd 2012 at 02:02 UTC carrying the EADS built Pleiades 1B satellite into orbit. Pleiades 1B for French CNES will provide very high resolution (50cm) imagery for French and Spanish defense ministries. The trip was onboard a Russian Soyuz-STA rocket with Fregat upperstage.
Separation of Pleiades 1B from Fregat upperstage
During a flight duration of 55 minutes, the Soyuz vehicle deployed its 970-kg. passenger into a targeted circular orbit of 695 km., inclined 98.2 deg., marking the medium-lift vehicle’s fourth mission from French Guiana since its introduction at this near-equatorial launch site in October 2011.
Pléiades 1B is a very-high-resolution dual-use satellite designed to provide optical imaging coverage for French and European defense ministries, institutions and civil users. It joins the twin Pléiades 1A spacecraft that was launched in December 2011 on Arianespace’s second Soyuz mission from the Spaceport.
Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall noted tonight’s launch was the ninth at French Guiana in 2012 for the company’s launcher family; following the lightweight Vega’s maiden flight in February; medium-lift missions with Soyuz in October and today; along with heavy-lift Ariane 5 flights in March, May, July, August, September and November.
Le Gall thanked all involved in these successes, including the teams who work at the Spaceport for such an “impressive” year – during which a total of 23 primary and secondary payloads were placed into orbit from French Guiana.
Pleiades 1B satellite
The Pléiades 1A and 1B satellites launched by Arianespace create an optical observation system with great agility, a quick-response ground segment and daily revisit capability – offering a new generation of “real-world” satellite Earth imagery at a resolution of 70 cm. Both Pléiades spacecraft are based on smaller, less expensive and more agile platforms than their predecessors – the highly-successful Spot satellite series that was lofted by Arianespace on its Ariane family launchers beginning in 1986.
France’s CNES space agency is prime contractor and architect for the Pléiades system, which is organized as part of a joint effort with Italy – whose Cosmo-Skymed satellite series delivers radar imaging coverage of the Earth.
Pléiades program participants are the space agencies of France, Austria, Belgium, Spain and Sweden; along with the defense ministries of France, Italy and Spain.
The Pléiades 1A and 1B spacecraft were built by EADS’ Astrium division.
Arianespace will wrap-up its 2012 launch activity at the Spaceport with a year-ending Ariane 5 mission on December 19 to orbit the Mexsat Bicentenario and Skynet 5D satellites.
For more information about Arianespace, visit: http://www.arianespace.com/index/index.asp
Images, Video, Text, Credits: Arianespace / Arianespace TV / CNES / Orbiter.ch Aerospace.
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