Commercial Soyuz Ready for Liftoff

Credit : Arianespace

Credit : Arianespace

Update: Today’s launch has been scrubbed due to high winds.  

A commercial Soyuz booster is ready for liftoff today out of the Guiana Space Center in South America at 2:53 p.m.  (3:53)  local carrying four 03b communications satellites.  Today’s launch marks the inauguration  of a new network of satellites built by Thales Alenia,   operating out of medium Earth orbit at an altitude of 8062 kilometers where they will be able to offer much lower latency than satellites stationed in Geostationary orbits.    With connectivity delays only slightly longer than those encountered with ground based internet routing, and in come cases less,  the 03b network will open a chapter in space based communications, and a mark an emerging niche within the overall launch market.  

This launch, conducted by Arianespace, will be performed by the Soyuz 2-1b booster equipped with the Fregat restartable upper stage.  If all goes well it will mark the 1,807th launch for Soyuz overall, and the 9th launch this year, spread out over three different launch centers.  There are currently three more flights for Soyuz scheduled out of French Guiana this year.

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