Russia sends two Soyuz carrier rockets to French Guiana

Two Russian Soyuz-ST carrier rockets are on the way from Samara to St. Petersburg to be shipped to French Guiana for future launches from the Kourou space center, the Progress design bureau said.

“A ship with carrier rockets will arrive in French Guiana in June,” the company said. “The launch of one of these rockets is scheduled for the third quarter of 2011.”

The Russian rocket will carry two Galileo navigation satellites that are the equivalent of the U.S.’s Global Positioning System (GPS) and Russia’s Glonass.

Soyuz-ST is a Soyuz-2 modification developed specially for Kourou to meet European requirements for security, telemetric systems and operation parameters.

Soyuz will join the heavy-lift Ariane 5 and the new lightweight Vega at the Kourou space center creating a family of launch vehicles operated from French Guiana that cover the full range of commercial and institutional mission requirements for Arianespace customers.

The Soyuz launch site at Kourou combines the proven design elements from the long-existing launch site at the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan with satellite integration procedures that meet the specifics of spacecraft preparation for Ariane missions.

Russia and France agreed on long-term cooperation in Soyuz-ST launches from Kourou in November 2003.

The first Soyuz-ST was scheduled to blast off from Kourou with the French Hylas satellite on board on December 17, 2010, but the launch was called off. The French operator said it was because it had become clear the Russian rocket would not be ready to fly by the end of the year.

The Kourou launch site is intended mainly for the launch of geostationary satellites. Its proximity to the Equator will enable the Soyuz-ST to put into orbit heavier satellites than those launched from Baikonur and Plesetsk in northern Russia.


MOSCOW, May 21 (RIA Novosti)

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