Press Release

Soyuz launches Europe on the fast track to Mars

By SpaceRef Editor
June 3, 2003
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Soyuz launches Europe on the fast track to Mars

During the night of June 2, 2003, Starsem has successfully launched the European Space Agency’s Mars Express interplanetary probe to the Red Planet.

The 1678th flight of a Soyuz family launch vehicle was performed from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The launch vehicle lifted off on schedule at 11:45:26 p.m. Baikonur time, 7:45:26 p.m., Paris time.

Starsem and its Russian partners report that the Fregat upper stage has accurately placed the probe and its lander -Beagle 2- on the targeted trajectory. As planned, two successive Fregat burns have been performed to reach the right trajectory: the first one occurred almost ten minutes after the lift-off, and was followed by a second ignition one hour and 7 minutes later, lasting for almost 14 minutes. One and a half hour after lift-off Mars Express was separated and injected on its way to Mars.

The first European mission to Mars will reach its destination in December 2003, after a six months cruise.

Soyuz sustained launch rate confirms its position as one of the world’s primary launch vehicles. This rate also demonstrates Samara Space Center’s continuous production capacity, as well as the operational capability of launch teams at Baikonur under the authority of the Russian Aviation and Space Agency.

Starsem is the Soyuz Company, bringing together all key players involved in the production, operation and international commercial marketing of the world’s most versatile launch vehicle. Shareholders in Starsem are EADS (35%), the Russian Aviation and Space Agency (25%), the Samara Space Center (25%) and Arianespace (15%).

The Starsem manifest for Soyuz missions currently includes contracted launches for Space Systems/Loral, the European Space Agency and Eumetsat.

SpaceRef staff editor.