The 1658th flight of a Soyuz launch vehicle took place successfully on
Monday, May 21, 2001 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The
launcher lifted off on schedule at 04.32 a.m. Baikonur local time (00.32
a.m. in Paris), and the Progress spacecraft was accurately placed on
the target orbit.

This was the fourth Soyuz
mission in 2001 and the 62nd successful launch in a row associated with
the Soyuz family of launchers. It was also the first launch of a Soyuz
launch vehicle equipped with modernized engines in the first and second
stages. Developed to meet the needs of the International Space Station,
this modernized version, which has just been qualified in flight, will
also be used for Soyuz/ST. This new version of the Soyuz launch vehicle,
equipped with a larger fairing, is currently being developed on the initiative
of Starsem. This launch represents a major phase in this development.

9 of these 62 successes
were human flights. After today’s mission, 6 additional Soyuz launches
are planned during the year from Baikonur Cosmodrome. 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

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, Alcatel Space Industries, the European
Space Agency and Eumetsat.