Russia sends two carrier rockets to French Guiana

May 21st, 2011 - 12:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, May 21 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Two Russian Soyuz-ST carrier rockets are on way to French Guiana for future launches from the Kourou space centre, officials said.

The rockets are currently en route from Samara to St. Petersburg to be shipped to French Guiana.

“A ship with carrier rockets will arrive in French Guiana in June,” the Progress Design Bureau 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 US’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 centre creating a family of launch vehicles operated from French Guiana that cover the full range of commercial and institutional mission requirements for Ariane space customers.

The Soyuz launch site at Kourou combines the design elements from the long-existing launch site at the Baikonur space centre 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 Dec 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.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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