Foton mission on schedule for launch

The Soyuz-U stands on the launch pad at Baikonur Cosmodrome
31 May 2005

An unmanned Foton capsule, carrying a payload of 39 ESA experiments, will be launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, at 14:00 CEST today. The Soyuz-U launcher, which will carry the Foton-M2 capsule into orbit, was successfully transferred to the launch pad yesterday morning.

The Foton-M2 satellite assembly and test work was completed at Baikonur on Saturday evening. Shortly afterwards the satellite was moved to the Soyuz integration area. Foton-M2 was assembled in a vertical position on the satellite adapter and the attachment of the fairings was performed until midnight. The whole assembly was then tilted until horizontal. Stacking onto the launcher, which was already on the transport train, was achieved in the early morning hours of Sunday.

Foton automated
Foton-M spacecraft becomes fully automated after injection into orbit

Around midday on Monday, the train carrying the Soyuz-U launcher was moved out of the integration hall, arriving at the launch pad just one hour later.

This is the first time a Foton will be launched from Baikonur, until now all Foton launches have taken place from Plesetsk, 800 km northeast of Moscow, in Russia.

During the 16-day mission, 39 ESA experiments will be conducted in fluid physics, biology, material science, meteoritics, radiation dosimetry and exobiology. With an overall payload of 600 kg on board, the 385 kg of ESA experiments and equipment constitutes the largest European payload that has been put into orbit on a Foton mission to date.

Assembly of Soyuz-U launcher
Roll-out Soyuz-U launcher
Soyuz-U launcher is moved into an upright position on the launch pad
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