Soyuz ready for the launch of the Egyptian imaging satellite – Spaceflight Now

The rocket Soyuz-2.1b and the upper floor of Fregat were deployed on Monday at Complex 31, at the cosmodrome of Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Credit: Energia

A Russian-made Earth observation satellite, designed to provide reconnaissance images to the Egyptian military authorities, is ready to be launched Thursday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, at the top of a Soyuz rocket.

The satellite EgyptSat-A and its recall Soyuz 2-1.b arrived Monday at Baikonur, in the launch area of ​​Complex 31, in the vast steppes of Kazakhstan. Hydraulic elevators lifted the rocket vertically onto the launch pad and gantry arms swung around the launcher to allow workers to complete final preparations before the flight.

Thursday's mission will mark the first space mission of the year in Russia. It will enable Egypt to place a satellite in orbit to replace EgyptSat 2, a land-based satellite that went bankrupt in 2015, one year after a planned eleven-year mission. Built by RSC Energia, a Moscow-based aerospace subcontractor, the satellite EgyptSat-A was manufactured with money from an insurance premium from the loss of EgyptSat 2, according to the Russian news agency Tass.

According to Russian reports, the development of EgyptSat-A would cost about $ 100 million.

The satellite weighs more than a ton of full fuel and Tass reported that EgyptSat-A presented several improvements over the design of Egypt Sat 2, including improved solar batteries and a radio link to high speed with ground stations.

The electro-optical imaging system of the spacecraft includes a telescope and an Earth observation camera capable of detecting surface features as small as 1 meter, with capabilities similar to those of the EgyptSat satellite 2, broke down. EgyptSat-A is the third Egyptian Earth observation satellite built in Russia, after the EgyptSat 1 satellite launched in 2007 and the EgyptSat 2 satellite launched in 2014.

Like its predecessor, EgyptSat-A is owned by the Egyptian National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Science, a government agency responsible for collecting and studying satellite images of the Earth. The main users of EgyptSat-A images should include Egyptian military and security forces, intelligence analysts, emergency responders, experts in environmental monitoring and the sector. agricultural.

EgyptSat-A is expected to take off Thursday aboard the Soyuz-2.1b rocket at 16:47 GMT (11:47 EST). The Russian space agency Roscosmos plans to broadcast the live broadcast live, which will be available on this page.

The launch is scheduled for 21:47. local time at the Baikonur launch pad, a facility leased from Kazakhstan by the Russian government. Local authorities in Kazakhstan adjusted the Baikonur time zone an hour earlier in December, making local time two hours ahead of Moscow.

After take-off, the three-stage Soyuz thruster will head north of Baikonur, releasing its first four first-flight propellers on Earth about two minutes into the flight. The main stage, also known as the second stage, will start the engine for nearly five minutes, then separate when the third-stage RD-0124 engine ignites to launch the EgyptSat-A spacecraft and its upper stage. Fregat in orbit.

The upper phase of Fregat will unfold from the third phase of Soyuz approximately nine minutes after the start of the mission, then begin maneuvers to place EgyptSat-A in its planned polar orbit.

Russian engineers will hand over control of EgyptSat-A to Egyptian authorities after the conclusion of verifications in orbit, according to Energia.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1.

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