Sentinel-1A was launched on 3 April 2014 on a Russian Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana, an overseas department of France.
The Soyuz launcher is the workhorse of the Russian space programme, in continuous production since the 1960s, and a descendant in design terms of the R-7 rocket that launched Sputnik in 1957, inaugurating the Space Age.
Soyuz has performed more than 1700 manned and unmanned missions. It is designed to extremely high reliability levels for manned missions – today supporting operations of the International Space Station.
The Soyuz-2 version used at Europe’s Spaceport is Soyuz-ST. This three-stage rocket (plus Fregat upper stage) is assembled horizontally in the traditional Russian approach, then moved to the vertical so that its payload can be mated from above in the standard European way.