Russian rocket prepares for lift-off

Soyuz-2.1a rolling out to the launch pad at Baikonur

The Soyuz-2.1a rocket with the Fregat upper stage and 6 Globalstar-2 satellites has been rolled out to launch pad 31 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

AT THE BAIKONUR COSMODROME in Kazakhstan, a Soyuz-2.1a/Fregat rocket is being prepared for launch with a payload of six communications satellites for the Globalstar company.The Soyuz is one of the world’s most reliable commercial launch vehicles. On October 19, 2010 a Soyuz booster was used to successfully launch six new Globalstar second-generation satellites. It was also successfully utilized on eight previous occasions to launch Globalstar’s first generation satellites. Later this year Globalstar plans to conduct two additional launches of six satellites per launch also using the Soyuz. The human-rated Soyuz launcher is used to transport astronauts and cosmonauts to the international space station.

The Globalstar second-generation satellite constellation is designed to last for 15 years, twice the lifespan of Globalstar’s first generation satellites.

Launch is due for 0258 GMT on July 11. To get an idea of what it will be like, here’s a video of a similar Russian launcher lifting off from Baikonur:

And here’s a bunch of photos of the Soyuz being prepared for launch:

Soyuz-2.1a rolling out to the launch pad at Baikonur

Soyuz-2.1a is the latest version of the venerable Soyuz rocket family.

Soyuz-2.1a rolling out to the launch pad at Baikonur

This Soyuz-2.1a has a Fregat upper stage attached, enabling it to carry a heavier payload.

Soyuz-2.1a rolling out to the launch pad at Baikonur

The Soyuz-2.1a is 46.1 metres high, 2.95 metres wide on its main body, and weights 300 tonnes.

Soyuz-2.1a rolling out to the launch pad at Baikonur

Soyuz rockets can be launched from Baikonur in Kazakhstan, Plesetsk in Russia, and soon from the French spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana.

Soyuz-2.1a rolling out to the launch pad at Baikonur

The modern 2.1a version of the Soyuz launcher has improved engines and a new digital flight control system.

Soyuz-2.1a rolling out to the launch pad at Baikonur

Since May 2009, there have been five successful Soyuz-2.1a launches out of six attempts.

Adapted from information issued by Roscosmos PAO / Yuzhny Space Centre / Globalstar.

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  1. Anne says:

    Can you imagine sitting on top of all that energy? Wow.