Sunday, October 23, 2011

Soyuz launches two Galileo satellites from French Guiana

The European Space Agency scored a double success on 21 October with it's first launch of a Soyuz rocket from  French Guiana followed by the successful deployment of it's first two operational Galileo navagation satellites.

The successful Soyuz rocket launch also cleared the way for a similar rocket to launch a Progress freighter from Baikonur to the International Space Station on 30 October. After a Soyuz rocket crashed on 24 August, Progress freighter and Soyuz manned spacecraft launches have been on hold, threatening the temporary de-crewing of the ISS.

The first pair of satellites for Europe's Galileo global navigation satellite system were lofted into orbit by the first Russian Soyuz vehicle ever launched from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana in a milestone mission.

The Soyuz VS01 flight, operated by Arianespace, started with liftoff from the new launch complex in French Guiana at 10:30 GMT (12:30 CEST) on 21 October.

All of the Soyuz stages performed perfectly and the Fregat-MT upper stage released the Galileo satellites into their target orbit at 23 222 km altitude, 3 hours 49 minutes after liftoff.

ESA Portal - One Soyuz launcher, two Galileo satellites, three successes for Europe