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PARIS, 6 March. /TASS/. Preparations for the next launch of Russia’s Soyuz carrier rocket have begun in French Guiana. Arianespace, responsible for Kourou spaceport launches, told TASS on Thursday that the company has completed installation of the four strap-on boosters of the rocket’s first stage. They were attached to the central unit A, which is the second stage.
"The next step will be the mating of Soyuz’ Block I third stage to the launcher’s core, completing the basic build-up, and readying the vehicle for its rollout to the launch pad - where the payload will be mated," Arianespace said.
The launch of the Soyuz rocket from Kourou is scheduled for March 27.
Arianespace’s March 27 flight will be the 11th Soyuz flight from French Guiana since the launcher’s introduction at the Spaceport in October 2011.
The Russian carrier rocket will take into orbit two satellites of the European navigation system Galileo - an analogue of Russia’s GLONASS global navigation satellite system and the American GPS system. The Galileo project was developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) with the EU support. The work on the Galileo system was launched in 2000. In 2005 and 2008, two experimental satellites were launched. In 2011, Russia’s Soyuz-STB rocket during its first blastoff from the French Guiana spaceport orbited two first permanent satellites that laid the foundation for the future navigation system.
For the upcoming Soyuz mission, Arianespace will loft the third and fourth Galileo Full Operational Capability (FOC) satellites to further expand the constellation for Europe’s space-based navigation system. Flight VS11’s two satellites were built by OHB System, with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. supplying their navigation payloads, Arianespace said.
Galileo’s complete operational network and its ground infrastructure will be deployed during the program’s Full Operational Capability phase, which is managed and funded by the European Commission. The European Space Agency has been delegated as the design and procurement agent on the Commission’s behalf.