Soyuz in Guiana Ready for Service
After the last in a series of tests, the Soyuz launch pad has been declared fit for service. Satellite launch campaigns can now begin. The near-equatorial position of Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana will boost Soyuz’s capability by 50% and enable it to burn less fuel.
Soyuz in Guiana will launch the Pléiades satellites
Soyuz launch pad operational
On 5 May 2011, a Soyuz 2-1b launcher was erected for a dry run on the ELS* launch pad at the Guiana Space Centre, bringing to an end a series of tests. The pad is now operational and on October 20th 2011 the maiden flight from Kourou will loft two Galileo satellites into orbit. Pléiades-1 and Pléiades-2 will be launched from the same pad.
* Ensemble de Lancement Soyouz
Soyuz in Guiana launch zone
Form Baïkonour to Kourou
The result of a French-Russian agreement signed in 2003, the new ELS launch complex took six years and cost €350 million to build. The ELS is modelled on the existing Soyuz launch pads in Baikonur. The complex covers an area of some 120 hectares, with nearly 20,000 sq.m of infrastructures including 650 m of rail track. On the pad, four lightning towers protect the launcher and the 28-m-deep flame trench below was dug into the granite to channel away gases at lift-off.
New mobile gantry
In Kazakhstan, Soyuz launchers are built and loaded horizontally. In French Guiana, they are transported horizontally to the pad and satellites are loaded into the launcher vertically using a mobile gantry.
The launcher is transported to the pad horizontally on rails and erected by a crane. The mobile gantry then slides over the launcher.
The fairing and payload are rolled into the gantry and then hoisted to the top of the launcher.
Once the launcher is ready with its fairing, the gantry slides back and frees the pad for launch.
The launcher lifts off and places the payload into orbit.