October 31, 2013

Bauman Scientists in French Guiana: The Proximity to the Equator is an Advantage of the Kourou Spaceport

Our «Soyuz» in French Guiana

Many years of successful operation of the launch vehicle "Soyuz" allow considering it one of the most reliable in the world. This fact gives the opportunity to use it extensively not only in domestic but also in international space programs. A striking example is the project "Soyuz" implemented by Russian and foreign companies at the Guiana Space Center. The purpose of the launch complex is to provide the prelaunch preparation and the launch of the carrier rockets. No missile can carry out its mission in space without a complex multistage preparation. Along with it, it's necessary to take into account a number of important factors that may complicate the operation, e.g., the climatic conditions, in which the rocket will be launched. Many years service of Russian launch facilities in the climatic conditions of Kazakhstan and the Russian North have confirmed their high reliability and significant potential of applications for multiple launches of unmanned spacecraft, manned and transport ships. The experience and professionalism of our specialists in the space industry is highly regarded and used in the world practice.

In 2005 between the European and Russian space agencies there was signed an agreement on the construction of rocket launch complex "Soyuz- 2" in French Guiana. This area is the largest overseas department of France and is located on the northeast coast of South America. French Guiana has quite an interesting climate: warm and humid equatorial climate with an average temperature of +25 ° C. The periods from December to February and from April to July are the seasons of heavy rains. But there are undeniable advantages: an ideal location in terms of ballistics. Kourou spaceport is located near the equator, thus it provides up to 15% of the payload advantage compared to launching in an easterly direction from the American launch site at Cape Canaveral and 40 % - from Baikonur. All parts of the project are distributed among the participants from the Russian and European sides. The Russian side is responsible for the development of "Soyuz" launches in Kourou infrastructure, the carrier rocket and ground equipment adaption to the launch conditions in hot and humid climate of Guiana; and also for the manufacture, supply, installation and operation of Russian equipment and the propellants for the "Fregat" upper-stage.

Launch complex allows from two to four launches of "Souyz" a year. It's supposed to launch no less than fifty launches of Russian missiles from this launching pad during fifteen years. "Soyuz" includes: an assembly and test facility, a launch pad, a command post and auxiliary systems. During the period of six years there were carried out the design works, there was produced the equipment that was delivered and installed at Kourou spaceport, South America.

"The department SM8 of BMSTU carried out the following work in these studies: design-basis justification of technical solutions in the launching system and umbilical mast during the design work and providing the factory test of the developed structures. BMSTU participants calculated the strength of the main structure on which the space launch vehicle is installed and maintained. The lower part of the construction and the hydraulic actuation of umbilical mast were also calculated by our specialists from SM1 and SM2 departments. They took into account the climatic conditions at the Guiana Space Center," professor of SM8 Vladimir Chugunkov, who headed the work, tells. The feature of the launch complex "Soyuz" in Guiana is its mobile service tower. There're no such movable structures at Baikonur or Plesetsk . This tower appeared at Kourou spaceport for the first time ever. In tropical climates where it often rains it's not easy to prepare lanches at the launch pad. The tower covers the launch system completely and creates a special microclimate inside. In this way the carrier rocket can be prepared in any environmental conditions. After the preparatory work the tower departs, the rocket is fueled and launched. This technology is going to be applied in Russian climatic conditions. The works are being carried out at the "Vostochny" Cosmodrome now: they're constructing a Launch Complex "Soyuz-2" which will be equipped with the mobile service tower too. It will differ from the one used in Guiana in design. It's explained by the fact that the "Vostochny" Cosmodrome is located in the Far East, in the area of frosts and heavy snowfalls, and structural loads increase significantly. The tower should be stronger compared to Guiana. The technical solutions are developed according to the temperature conditions and the possibility of its exterior surfaces icing in winter. Our experts, including the former students - SM8 graduates, go to Guiana to participate in launch preparation. One of them, now the Head of the FSUE "TSENKI" branch - SRI Launch Complexes named after V.P. Barmin - Anton Ukrainsky participated in the development and launch system designs, and in its trials.



Anton Ukrainsky,
SM-8 graduate,
the Kourou Space Centre



The proximity to the equator is an advantage of the Kourou spaceport. It's quite close to the equator, so that the spinning earth can impart some extra velocity to the rockets for free when launched eastward. Geographical position of the Kourou spaceport provides up to 40% of the payload advantage compared to launching from Baikonur.

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