The Soyuz rocket has been used for launching various payloads since the 1960's. These include ferrying crew and cargo to various Space Stations (utilizing various versions of the Soyuz-TM and Progress Spacecraft respectively), launching satellites to earth orbit and sending various spacecraft to other planetary bodies such as the moon.
Manned Soyuz Spacecraft are launched from Baikonur Space Port, Kazakstan. Plestek, Russia is used mainly to launch military payloads. There are proposals to launch the Soyuz from Kourou, south America. At present the Soyuz is being marketted internationally by Starsem - a Fench/Russian Consortium. The Soyuz Rocket is used for launching the manned Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station. It is also used to launch unmanned Progress supply spacecraft to the International Space Station and for commercial launches.
The Soyuz launch vehicle was derived from the R-7 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile of the 1950's. The rocket is assembled horizontally and transported to the launch site in its horizontal position on a train and then raised. The launcher was introduced in 1966 and was derived from the Vostok launch vehicle, which was based on the R-7a intercontinental ballistic missile. The first manned Soyuz launch took place on 23 April 1967.
Soyuz is planned to be brought
into ESA service in 2009 under a Russo-European joint venture. A new launch pad
is being built at the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana. Soyuz is a
medium-class launcher and its performance will complement the ESA launchers
Ariane-5 and Vega and enhance the competitiveness and flexibility of the Ariane
launchers on the commercial market.
The Soyuz launch vehicle that will be used at Europe's Spaceport is the Soyuz-2 version called Soyuz-ST. This includes the Fregat upper stage and the ST fairing. Soyuz-2 is the last version of the renowned family of Russian launchers that began the space race more than 40 years ago by launching Sputnik, the first satellite to be placed into orbit and then sending the first man into space – Yuri Gagarin.
Soyuz-2 will have improved performance and be able to place up to 3 tonnes into geostationary transfer orbit, compared to the 1.7 tonnes that can be launched from Baikonur in Kazakhstan.
The standard Soyuz Launch Vehicle has three stages. The first stage are the four strap-ons (boosters). The second stage is the central core. The first and second stages ignite simultaneously on the ground.
Please note that each strap-on is using one engine which uses four chambers.
The four strap-ons separate from the core at about 118 seconds after liftoff. When second stage (central core) completes its powered flight, the third stage ignites.
The third stages is comprised of the payload adapter and fairing. It fires for approximately 240 seconds before it cuts off and separates from the second stage.
Did you know?
Between February 1, 2003 and July 26, 2005 with the grounding of the US Space Shuttle fleet, Soyuz was the only means of transportation to and from the International Space Station. This included the transfer of supplies via Progress spacecraft and crew changeovers via the Soyuz Manned Spacecraft.
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Updated: Tuesday 1st, April, 2014