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Europe gets ready for 2nd Soyuz launch next week


The Soyuz rocket at the European spaceport in French Guiana during its maiden launch on Oct 21. A file photo

KOUROU (BNS): After the first successful launch of Soyuz in October, Europe is now preparing the second launch of the Russian-built carrier rocket from the French Guiana spaceport next week.

The Soyuz rocket is set to lift off from the Kourou space centre in French Guiana on December 16.

The rocket will carry the Pléiades 1 Very High Resolution (VHR) Earth observation satellite for France along with five other payloads.

The Pléiades 1 imaging satellite is the largest of six spacecraft to be lofted by Soyuz during the December 16 launch, Arianespace, which will conduct the launch mission, said.

The other payloads will be four French ELISA electronic intelligence (ELINT) satellites and the SSOT Earth observation satellite for Chile.

Pléiades 1 is the first of two very high-resolution satellites manufactured by Astrium. It will be joined in space by its twin, Pléiades 2, in approximately one year's time.

Once in orbit, each satellite will provide the French and Spanish defence ministries, and civilian users, with Very High Resolution (VHR) optical satellite imagery coupled with major operational advances.

The four ELISA satellites, jointly developed by Astrium and Thales for the French ministry of defence procurement agency (DGA) and French space agency CNES, will demonstrate spaceborne capabilities to map and characterise radar emissions from all around the globe.

The SSOT will be a high resolution Earth observation satellite platform for Chile.

The maiden launch of Soyuz rocket from Europe took place on October 21 when the vehicle successfully placed in orbit Europe's first two Galileo global navigation satellites.

The launch, from Europe's space base in South America, was the first time that Russia had sent a rocket up from outside the former Soviet Union.

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