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Final countdown to Soyuz liftoff begins

The no. 1 Soyuz for launch from French Guiana is seen through the open doors of its mobile service gantry. Photo: Arianespace.

KOUROU, FRENCH GUIANA (BNS): The countdown to Soyuz' maiden flight from French Guiana will resume for a liftoff Friday morning after work on the launch pad resolved a ground support system anomaly that postponed the historic mission for 24 hours.

The anomaly was identified as a leak in a launch pad pneumatic system responsible for the programmed disconnection of Soyuz' third stage fueling lines before the vehicle lifts off, according to a news report by Arianespace.

With the issue resolved, the liftoff is now set for October 21 at 7:30:26 a.m. local time (1034 GMT) in French Guiana - a precise moment that enables the payload of two Galileo satellites to be injected into their proper orbital plane.

Soyuz' 3-hr. 49-min. flight from the Spaceport will inject the In-Orbit Validation (IOV) spacecraft for Europe's Galileo satellite navigation system.

The first operational Galileo satellites, with a payload of 1.58 tons, will be placed in a circular orbit at an altitude of more than 23,000 kilometres, the report added.

Weighing approximately 700 kg. each, these satellites - along with two others to be lofted by Soyuz in 2012 - will form the operational nucleus of Europe's full 30-satellite Galileo navigation constellation, which is being developed in a collaborative programme involving the European Space Agency and European Union.

The satellites constellation is expected to be deployed in orbit by 2020 to offer improved service for civil and commercial applications.


Soyuz  Galileo  Arianespace  ESA  

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