Final countdown is underway for Arianespace’s first Soyuz launch at the service of O3b Networks
Arianespace has commenced the final countdown for today’s medium-lift Soyuz mission from the Spaceport in French Guiana, which is to orbit the first four connectivity spacecraft for O3b Networks.
Fueling of the Soyuz’ main stages is now underway on the launch pad, with the vehicle protected by a 53-meter-tall mobile gantry. The gantry will be rolled back to its parked position one hour before liftoff, revealing the completed launcher for the first time.
Tonight’s Arianespace flight – designated VS05 in the company’s launcher family numbering system – is set for liftoff at precisely 3:54:03 p.m., local time in French Guiana. The first two O3b Networks spacecraft will be released at just over 2 hours after liftoff, followed by deployment of the remaining two passengers 21 minutes later – completing the mission.
Payload lift performance for this flight is 3,204 kg., including approximately 2,800 kg. for the four Ka-band satellites, which were produced by Thales Alenia Space for O3b Networks. They will initiate the creation of a next-generation satellite network for telecommunications operators, Internet service providers, enterprise and government customers in emerging markets.
A total of 12 O3b Networks satellites are to be orbited by Arianespace in groups of four, with the next mission planned for later this year, and another in 2014.