Launch Schedule Emerges for Europeanized Soyuz

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LE BOURGET, France — The race among six payloads for the four launch slots this year aboard the Europeanized version of Russia’s Soyuz rocket appears to have been settled by delays encountered by two of the six, European government and industry officials said.

The result is a Soyuz manifest from Europe’s Guiana Space Center, on the northeast coast of South America, that looks like this:

The commercial O3b Networks will place four of its Ka-band broadband satellites on each of two Soyuz vehicles this year, with the first launch scheduled for June 24 and the second in September. The European Space Agency’s Gaia science satellite is also on time for a fall Soyuz launch.

The fourth and final payload for Europe’s Soyuz this year likely will be two Galileo positioning, navigation and timing satellites. These will be the first two of 22 satellites being built by a consortium led by OHB AG of Germany and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. of Britain, with Surrey providing the payloads.

The first satellite has been undergoing testing since May at the European Space Agency’s European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk, Netherlands. The test results will not be known until July, but early indications are that the first two OHB-Surrey satellites will be cleared for launch before the end of the year.

The remaining Galileo satellites will be launched starting in early 2014. The launch of Europe’s Sentinel 1A Earth observation satellite, part of the European Commission’s Copernicus environment-monitoring program, has slipped to early 2014, officials said.