Arianespace Soyuz Launcher Lifts Off for Flight VS23 Mission

An Arianespace Soyuz launcher has lifted off from the Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana at 05:54 am local time (08:54 UTC) on Dec. 18 carrying five European satellites.

The launch was originally scheduled for yesterday but was scrubbed due to a launcher software issue.

Payload lift performance for this mission to Sun-synchronous orbit – designated Flight VS23 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system – is estimated at 3,250 kg., with a flight sequence that will last 4 hours and 13 minutes from liftoff to final payload separation.

The primary passenger for Flight VS23 – the first of two COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation (CSG-1) Earth observation spacecraft – will be deployed first in the flight sequence. Manufactured by Thales Alenia Space, it is being launched for the Italian Space Agency (ISA) and Ministry of Defence.

CHEOPS (Characterising Exoplanet Satellite), Soyuz’ secondary passenger, is a European Space Agency (ESA) mission dedicated to studying bright, nearby stars that already are known to host exoplanets in order to make high-precision observations of the planet’s size. The spacecraft was produced by Airbus.

In addition, three auxiliary payloads are to be deployed on Flight VS23: EyeSat, for the French CNES space agency; ANGELS, for CNES and Hemeria; and OPS-SAT, for Tyvak on behalf of ESA.

Flight VS23 is Arianespace’s third launch in 2019 with a medium-lift Soyuz vehicle. Overall, it will be the ninth flight this year using the company’s full family of launchers, which also includes the heavy-lift Ariane 5 and lightweight Vega.

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