The First Two Soyuz Vehicles Sent from Russia to French Guiana
The initial two Soyuz rockets for Arianespace's operation from the Spaceport in French Guiana have been loaded aboard the MN Colibri transport ship in St. Petersburg, Russia this week in preparation for their transatlantic crossing to South America.
The rockets were expected to depart the Russian port city yesterday, November 7 for a 15 days trip .
The MN Colibri roll-on/roll-off vessel - which is one of two sea-going ships used by Arianespace in the regular transportation of launchers from Europeto South America - will dock at Pariacabo port near Kourou, where the Soyuz vehicles will be unloaded and transported by road to the Spaceport.
Soyuz will operate alongside the heavy-lift Ariane 5, which has been in commercial service at the Spaceport since 1999, and also is expected to be joined in 2010 by the lightweight Vega.
Both Ariane 5 and Vega are produced by European industrial teams for Arianespace. Together with Soyuz, they constitute a highly versatile family of commercial vehicles that are managed and operated by a single launch services provider.
Soyuz will be able to carry communications satellites weighing up to 3 metric tons into geostationary orbit, compared to 1.8 metric tons when the vehicle is flown from its long-operational Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site in Kazakhstan.