Arianespace announched the shipment of the first two Soyuz vehicles from Russia to their (Arianespace) Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, will bring that company closer to its next major expansion of its growing commercial launcher family.
The Soyuz 2-1a launcher versions have been loaded onboard the MN Colibri, a roll-on/roll-off cargo ship which has now departed the Russian port city of St. Petersburg for the two week crossing of the Atlantic Ocean to South America.
It is expected that these two Soyuz's will be launched in 2010. Arianespace uses the Kourou, French Guiana spaceport, to launch their heavy-lift Ariane 5 booster.
For this, its maiden ocean voyage with Soyuz, the MN Colibri is loaded with a total of some 50 containers. Each three-stage launch vehicle is divided into 10 containers, which carry the four first-stage strap-on boosters, its Block A core stage (which is transported in two segments), the Block I third stage, the Fregat upper stage and the Soyuz 2-1a’s ST-type payload fairing (shipped in two separate half-shells). Also, there is a quantity of refined kerosene propellant for the launcher’s strap-on boosters, as well as its Block A and Block I stages; along with UDMH, N2O4 and hydrazine for its Fregat upper stage.
Cargo for these two Soyuz launchers is the HYLAS telecommunications satellite for Avanti Communications Group plc., and the French CNES space agency’s Pléiades Earth observation satellite.
Launching from the Spaceport in French Guiana, the Soyuz is capable of carrying telecommunications satellites weighing up to three metric tons on missions to geostationary orbit. The vehicle also is well tailored for the lofting of medium-sized scientific, Earth observation and constellation spacecraft on flights to low Earth orbit, medium Earth orbit and on Earth escape trajectories.
REf. Arianespace.com press release (http://www.arianespace.com/news-soyuz-vega/2009/2009_11_07.asp).