Starsem has successfully launched the Dumsat payload from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Soyuz-Fregat launch vehicle lifted off on Monday March 20, 2000 at 11:28 p.m. local time, (6:28 p.m. T.U.). The objective of this flight was to confirm the re-ignition and orbital maneuvering capabilities of the Fregat upper stage, and to validate the mission profile for the launch of the European Space Agency’s scientific satellites, Cluster II. In view of this, the Dumsat payload developed by Aerospatiale Matra Lanceurs and NPO Lavotchkine, was representative of the mechanical behavior of the Cluster II satellites. It was also equipped with sensors which allowed the characterization of the mechanical, thermal and acoustical environment of the satellites.

This flight followed the qualification flight of the Soyuz-Fregat launcher which took place on February 9, 2000. Starsem plans to use this version of the launcher twice more this year, in June and in July, to place the four satellites of the Cluster II mission into orbit.

Starsem, whose shareholders are Aerospatiale Matra (35%), Arianespace (15%), the Russian Aeronautics and Space Agency (25%), and the Samara Space Center (25%), is responsible for commercial marketing and the operations of the Soyuz family of launchers. In 1999, Starsem launched twenty-four satellites of the Globalstar constellation with six Soyuz-Ikar vehicles.

Today’s success confirms Starsem’s capacity to develop a range of vehicles, and to direct the work done by its Russian and European industrial partners. It also demonstrates the possibilities of the Soyuz launcher to incorporate advanced evolutions, adapting it to the needs of the world market for launch services.