Soyuz Rocket Begins Dry Runs at Kourou

by

PARIS — A Europeanized version of Russia’s Soyuz rocket on April 29 was rolled out to its new launch pad at Europe’s Guiana Space Center, Kourou, French Guiana, in the first of a series of dry runs to simulate a launch campaign. The tests were scheduled to continue through May 5 with a countdown to verify the functionality of the launch base.

Led by the French government, the European Space Agency has built a dedicated Soyuz launch pad at the equatorial launch site in French Guiana. French officials said the Soyuz rocket, equipped with a Fregat upper stage, is about ready for operations. But the inaugural payload — two European Galileo navigation satellites — will not be ready until September. A confirmation of the launch date is expected by mid-May.