launch vehicle family has provided reliable and efficient
launch services since the birth of the space program.
Vehicles in this
family, which have launched both the first satellite and first
man into space, have been credited with more than 1800 launches
to this date. Today, this vehicle is used for manned and unmanned
flights to the International Space Station and commercial launches
managed by Starsem.
its roots back to the two-stage R-7A intercontinental ballistic
missile, which was the first in an evolutionary series of launch
vehicles, beginning with the launch of Sputnik in 1957.
As Sputnik was
limited to LEO payloads up to 1.5 tons, the need to inject heavier
payloads into orbit led to the addition of a third stage (Block
E), thus giving birth to the Vostok launch vehicle. This vehicle
launched the first unmanned spacecraft to the moon and in 1961
carried Yuri Gagarin into space.
in the 1960's included the replacement of the Block E 3rd stage
with the significantly more powerful Block I. This improvement
led to the Voskhod and then Soyuz configurations. A fourth stage
added to the Block I was the Molniya vehicle, which was used
to place satellites on highly elliptical orbits.
of the restartable Ikar upper stage to the three-stage Soyuz
in 1999 allowed Starsem to launch 24 satellites of the Globalstar
constellation in 6 launches.
success, Starsem introduced the flexible, restartable Fregat
upper stage with significantly more propellant capacity than
the Ikar, thus opening up a full range of missions (LEO, SSO,
MEO, GTO, GEO, and escape).
flight of a Soyuz 2-1a launch vehicle performed November 8,
2004 from the Plessetsk Cosmodrome marks a major step in the
launch vehicle evolution program. This modernized version of
Soyuz implements a digital control system providing additional
mission flexibility and will enable control of the launch vehicle
with the larger fairing.
The next steps of the Soyuz evolution
program were the following:
- Introduction of the ST fairing upgrade providing customers
with additional payload volume.
- Introduction of the Soyuz 2-1b, implementing a more powerful
third stage engine significantly increasing the overall launch
vehicle performance and providing additional payload mass capability.
With the introduction of Soyuz at the Guiana Space Center (CSG) and its successful historic launch on 21 October 2011, this famed Russian medium-class launch vehicle became an integral part of the European launch vehicle fleet, together with the heavy-lift Ariane 5 and the lightweight Vega. Offered to the commercial market, the Soyuz in French Guiana is Europe's reference medium-class launch vehicle for governmental and commercial missions.
The Soyuz configuration
introduced in 1966 has been the workhorse of the Soviet/Russian
space program, achieving a high launch success rate in over
800 flights. As the only manned launch vehicle in Russia and
the former Soviet Union, the Soyuz benefits from exacting standards
in both reliability and robustness.
Space Center continues to mass-produce the Soyuz in Samara,
Russia, and has facilities dimensioned for the production of
up to 4 launch vehicles per month. In fact, peak production
of the Soyuz in the early 1980's reached 60 vehicles per year.
As a result of continued demand from the Russian government,
International Space Station activity, and Starsem's commercial
orders, the Soyuz is in uninterrupted production at an average
rate of 10 to 15 launch vehicles per year with a capability
to rapidly scale up to accommodate user's needs.
The Soyuz is
a reliable, efficient, and cost-effective solution for a full
range of missions from LEO to Mars. The Soyuz has already accomplished
virtually every type of mission, including orbiting satellites
for telecommunications, Earth observation, weather monitoring,
scientific missions and manned flights. It is a highly responsive
and flexible launch vehicle.
responsibility for the Soyuz's commercial marketing, sales,
and management, Starsem is truly "The Soyuz Company."