The Soyuz launcher for Arianespace’s year-opening mission rolled out to the launch pad in French Guiana, readying the vehicle to receive its Hispasat 36W-1 payload for a nighttime liftoff from the Spaceport on Friday, January 27.
Soyuz was moved from the Spaceport’s MIK launcher assembly facility to the ELS launch zone, using a transport/erector rail car in a horizontal transfer process. When positioned over the launch pad, the vehicle was erected into a vertical orientation, where it is suspended in place by four large support arms.
With this step’s completion, the mobile gantry was moved into position around the basic three-stage launcher – providing protection for the upcoming installation of Soyuz’ “upper composite,” which consists of the Hispasat 36W-1 spacecraft, plus the Fregat upper stage and payload fairing.
Friday’s mission, designated Flight VS16 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system, will be the first for Soyuz to geostationary transfer orbit in the medium-lift vehicle’s operations from the Spaceport. Soyuz was introduced at French Guiana in 2011, and has performed 15 missions to date from the South America facility.
Another first for Flight VS16 is the Hispasat 36W-1 passenger – the initial telecommunications satellite to use the SmallGEO series platform, developed under the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) program. Its design and manufacture was performed by Germany’s OHB System AG.
Once in orbit at a position of 36 degrees West, the three-metric-ton-category telecommunications platform will provide relay coverage and multimedia services across Europe, the Canary Islands and South America at the service of Hispasat – a world leader in Spanish and Portuguese broadcasting.