Lifting off at the precise moment set for this launch at 10:33 p.m. (local time in French Guiana), Soyuz deployed its 1,340-kg. passenger into Sun-synchronous orbit. Arianespace orbited the United Arab Emirates’ FalconEye Earth observation satellite tonight on its latest Soyuz mission from the Spaceport in French Guiana.
Message from Arianespace
Arianespace has successfully launched FalconEye, a very-high-performance Earth observation satellite for the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces.
With the eighth launch in 2020, Arianespace once again confirms the reliability and flexibility of the Soyuz launcher, which just realized its 24th launch from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana.
On Tuesday, December 1, at 10:33 p.m. (local time), Arianespace successfully launched the FalconEye optical observation satellite using a Soyuz rocket from the Guiana Space Center (CSG), Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. FalconEye is a very-high-performance optical Earth observation satellite developed in a consortium led by Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space for the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces (UAEAF).
“The success of this launch is the culmination of excellent teamwork: with our Russian partners for the Soyuz launcher; with satellite manufacturers Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space, as well as with their client, the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, for Falcon Eye; along with the French CNES space agency and the French DGA armaments procurement and technology agency. Therefore, Arianespace is pleased to have served the space ambitions of the United Arab Emirates,” declared Stéphane Israël, Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace.
The FalconEye satellite offers very-high-resolution optical observation capabilities, coupled with a high-performance ground segment to receive and process images. This was the 23rd satellite launched by Arianespace that was produced jointly by Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space. Airbus Defence and Space, prime contractor for FalconEye, was in charge of satellite design, integration and testing, as well as supplying the platform. Thales Alenia Space, as co-prime, supplied the high-performance payload, which features a very-high-resolution optical instrument and the image transmission subsystem.
This mission also marks Arianespace’s 31st launch for a customer from the Middle East.
FalconEye was deployed by Arianespace’s third Soyuz flight in 2020; the two previous missions were carried out in February and March from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Two more Soyuz launches are planned before year-end: Flight ST29 from the new Russian launch site in Vostochny for OneWeb; and Flight VS25 from the CSG. With more than 1,900 launches to its credit overall since entering service in 1963, the Soyuz launcher is the most flexible and most utilized in its class. As the medium-lift launcher in Arianespace’s family of launch vehicles, Soyuz perfectly complements the European launch service operator’s commercial offer, particularly in serving low and medium orbits for the benefit of Earth observation satellites and constellations.
Announcement on November 30 …
The launch of Soyuz Flight VS24 with the FalconEye satellite has been postponed 24 hours. This postponement resulted from the countdown being interrupted prior to liftoff because telemetry data reception by the range safety team was not nominal.
The Soyuz launch vehicle and the FalconEye satellite remain in stable and safe conditions at the Spaceport in French Guiana.
Arianespace’s eighth mission of 2020 – and its third this year using a medium-lift Soyuz – will be carried out November 30 from the Spaceport in French Guiana.
Arianespace stopped the final countdown for Soyuz Flight VS24 at 3 minutes, 54 seconds before liftoff because of the potential risk for a lightning strike on the launch vehicle during its ascent from the Spaceport in French Guiana.
The Soyuz launcher and its FalconEye satellite payload are in stable and safe conditions.
The launch vehicle will be carrying a total payload of approximately 1,340 kg, and will place its undisclosed satellite passenger into Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO).
Arianespace’s two preceding Soyuz launches this year – performed in February and March – were conducted from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. the mission is designed Flight VS24 in the company’s numbering system.The earliest possible launch date for Flight VS24 is Monday, November 30 at:
- 8:33 p.m., in Washington, D.C.;
- 10:33 p.m., in Kourou, French Guiana;
- 01:33 Universal Time (UTC) on December 1;
- 2:33 a.m., in Paris, on December 1; and
- 5:33 a.m., in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), on December 1.
The satellite is equipped with an Earth observation payload, with very-high-resolution optical capabilities and completed by a ground system for monitoring, receiving and processing images. It will be controlled and managed by Emirati operators.
The FalconEye satellite, to be orbited by Flight VS24, will be the space component of the system, and will have a dual mission: support the needs of UAE Armed Forces and provide commercial imagery for the market. Weighing approximately 1,190 kg at launch, it will be placed in a Sun-synchronous orbit at 611km from the Earth.
FalconEye will be the 98th Earth observation satellite launched by Arianespace.
Earth observation missions represent more than 13 percent of the total number of satellites launched by Arianespace.
As industrial prime contractor prime contractor, Airbus Defence and Space was in charge of the platform and satellite design, integration and tests.
Thales Alenia Space, as co-prime, designed and supplied the high performance payload including the high resolution optical instrument and the image chain subsystem.
In the 40 years since Arianespace’s creation, the launch services company has maintained a fruitful cooperation with Airbus. FalconEye will be the 129th Airbus Defence and Space satellite to be launched by Arianespace. There currently are 19 Airbus Defence and Space satellites in Arianespace’s backlog.
FalconEye will be the 164th satellite manufactured by Thales Alenia Space to be launched by Arianespace. There currently are five Thales Alenia Space satellites in Arianespace’s backlog.
FalconEye will be the 23rd cooperative mission launched by Arianespace that has brought Airbus Defence and Space together with Thales Alenia Space.