Fourth Soyuz-ST Lifts Off From South America

Soyuz Launch Credit Arianespace

Soyuz Launch
Credit Arianespace

The newest version of the venerable Russian Soyuz launch vehicle continued a successful launch campaign out of the Arianespace/European Space Agency’s equatorial launch facility in French Guiana Saturday evening.  Carrying the multi-purpose French Pleiades 1B observation satellite which will serve military, governmental and commercial customers, the Soyuz-ST-A, which includes a Fregat upperstage, lifted off at 8:02 PM CST (11:02 PM local)

Specially modified to withstand the tropical conditions of the Kourou launch site, including provisions to cause the four strap-on liquid fueled boosters to sink after impacting the Atlantic, the Soyuz ST forms the mid-entry of the three launch vehicle fleet currently offered by Arianespace,  including the much more capable Ariane V, as well as the newest entry, the solid fueled Vega launch vehicle.  Commercial launch costs are estimated to be on the order of $50 million per flight.  It is capable of placing 9,200 kg in a 200 km 5 degree orbit, and 2,70 kg into a Geostationary Transfer Orbit.  This marks the 1,797th launch of a Soyuz booster, which traces a direct lineage back to the the original R-7 ICBM which officially inaugurated the space age with launch of Sputnik-1 on October 4th 1957.


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