Watch the video of today’s debut lift off of a Russian Soyuz rocket from the edge of the Amazon jungle at the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana as it successfully carried the first two Galileo In-Orbit Validation satellites to space after an arduous 7 year struggle to mesh Russian and European technologies and cultures – a magnificent achievement that opens a wide realm of new commercial and science exploration possibilities to exploit space for humankind. Launch photos below and here.
Now have some real fun and enjoy this absolutely cool Rockin’ Russian music video showing a headless Soyuz rollout to the pad, an erection like you’ve never imagined and capping with the Galileo satellites. Guaranteed you’ve never seen struttin’ like this but will totally get the Soyuz experience in 2 minutes – give it a whirl. They never did it like this in Russia.
“This historic first launch of a genuine European system like Galileo was performed by the legendary Russian launcher that was used for Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin, a launcher that will, from now on, lift off from Europe’s Spaceport,” said Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of ESA.
“These two historical events are also symbols of cooperation: cooperation between ESA and Russia, with a strong essential contribution of France; and cooperation between ESA and the European Union, in a joint initiative with the EU”.
Russia’s legendary Soyuz rocket soared skywards today (Oct.21) on its historic 1st ever blastoff from a new European space base in the equatorial jungles of South America. The history making liftoff of the Soyuz ST-B launcher from French Guiana occurred at exactly 6:30:26 a.m. EST (10:30:26 GMT) and lofted the first two operational satellites of Europe’s new Galileo GPS navigation system.
The flawless liftoff of the Soyuz booster from the ELS pad in French Guiana marked the first time that a Soyuz was launched from outside of the six existing pads in Russia and Kazakhstan. The joint Russian-European project was started back in 2004 and culminated with today’s launch of the Soyuz-VSO1 mission.
“This launch represents a lot for Europe: we have placed in orbit the first two satellites of Galileo, a system that will position our continent as a world-class player in the strategic domain of satellite navigation, a domain with huge economic perspectives,” said Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of ESA.
Soyuz lineage dates back to the beginning of the Space Age with the launch of Sputnik-1 in 1957 and the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, in 1961. Soyuz had flown 1776 times to date.
The launcher is based on the existing Soyuz design with a few changes to accommodate European safety standards and the construction of the ELS launch pad was modeled after the existing pads in Baikonur in Kazakhstan and Plesetsk in Russia. One significant difference is the construction of a 45 meter (170 foot) mobile gantry
A leaky valve delayed the flight by one day.
The duo of 700 kg Galileo satellites were mounted side by side on the Fregat upper stage atop the three stage Soyuz-2 rocket. These two Galileo In-orbit Validation (IOV) model satellites are experimental models that will be used to test the GPS technology.
Two additional Galileo IOV satellites will be launched in 2012 as the initial segment of a 30 strong constellation of satellites in total.
The Galileo satelites will provide pinpoint accuracy to within about 1 meter (3 feet) compared to about 3 meters (10 feet) for the GPS system.
The 4 meter diameter payload fairing jettisoned as planned three minutes into the flight and the first of two firings of the Fregat upper stage was successfully completed after burnout of the lower stages. The second Fregat firing was accomplished about 4 hours after launch and injected the Galileo satellites into orbit some 23,000 km (14,000 miles) miles high.
The Fregat upper stage was designed to reignite and fire up to 20 times. It is fueled with nitrogen tetroxide and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH).
By launching from near the equator (5°N), the Soyuz gains about a 50% performance boost from 1.7 tons to nearly 3 tons to geostationary orbit due to the Earth’s faster spin compared to Baikonur (46°N).
Manned Soyuz missions from South America could be possible at some future date if the political and funding go ahead was approved by ESA and Russia. It is technically possible to reach the ISS from the French Guiana pad and would require the installation of additional ground support equipment.
The next Soyuz launch from South America is set for Dec. 16, 2011. 17 contracts have already been signed for future liftoffs at a rate of 2 to 3 per year.
A Russian Soyuz-2 rocket sits poised for its first ever blast off in less than 24 hours from a brand new launch pad built in the jungles of French Guiana, South America by the European Space Agency (ESA) .
The payload for the debut liftoff of the Soyuz ST-B booster consists of the first pair of operational Galilieo satellites, critical to Europe’s hopes for building an independent GPS navigation system in orbit.
The Soyuz VS01 mission is set to soar on Thursday, Oct. 20 at 6:34 a.m. EDT (1034 GMT ) from Europe’s new South American pad, specially built for the Soyuz rocket. The three stage rocket was rolled out 600 meters horizontally to the launch pad and vertically raised to its launch position.
The two Galileo satellites were mated to the Fregat-MT upper stage, enclosed inside their payload fairing and then hoisted atop the Soyuz rocket. They should seperate from the upper stage about 3.5 hous after launch.
Because French Guiana is so close to the equator, the Soyuz gains a significant boost in performance from 1.7 tons to 3 tons due to the Earth’s greater spin.
This marks the first time in history that the renowned Soyuz workhorse will blast off from outside of Kazakhstan or Russia and also the start of orbital construction of Europe’s constellation of 30 Gallileo satellites.
28 more of the navigation satellites, built by the EADS consortium based in Germany, will be lofted starting in 2012 aboard the medium class Soyuz rockets.
French Guiana is already home to Europe’s venerable Ariane rocket family and will soon expand further to include the new Vega rocket for smaller class satellites.
ESA will begin live streaming coverage starting about an hour before the planned launch time of 6:34 a.m. EDT (1034 GMT)