Soyuz Rocket Launches From Kourou Affected by Progress Failure

Soyuz Rocket Launches From Kourou Affected by Progress Failure

Flights of Russia’s Soyuz rocket from France’s launch site in Kourou, French Guinea are being affected, but not delayed, by the failure of a similar rocket launching the Progress M-12M cargo spacecraft last month.

Russia’s news agency, Itar-Tass, reports that two Soyuz rockets that are being readied for launch at Kourou will have their third stages replaced. The action will not delay the launches, however, according to the report. They are scheduled for October 20 and in December of this year.

Russia and Europe reached agreement to launch the Soyuz rocket from Kourou in 2004. The idea is for Soyuz to fill the niche of a medium-class launcher in Europe’s suite of launch vehicles, joining the large Ariane 5 and small Vega launchers. Because the launch site is to close to equator (7 degrees north latitude) compared with Russia’s southernmost launch facility at Baikonur (50.7 degrees north), the rocket can take much more payload to orbit. The payload capability from Kourou is 3 metric tons compared to 1.7 metric tons from Baikonur. Initially, Soyuz flights from Baikonur were expected as early as 2006, but there has been none as yet.

A Soyuz rocket launched from Baikonur that was intended to place a Progress cargo spacecraft on a trajectory to replenish the International Space Station failed on August 24. An investigating commission determined a clogged fuel line was the cause. Flights of the Soyuz with Progress spacecraft are expected to resume from Baikonur next month, and a simlliar rocket carrying three ISS crewmembers in November.

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