Starsem and Arianespace yesterday orbited the Israeli communications satellite Amos 2.

The 1,684th launch of a Soyuz family launch vehicle (using the Soyuz-Fregat version) took place at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The launcher lifted off as scheduled at2:30 amlocal time on Sunday, December 28 (21:30 GMT on Saturday, December 27, 2003).

Starsem, Arianespace and their Russian partners confirmed that the Fregat upper stage accurately injected the Amos 2 satellite into the targeted orbit. This was the Soyuz launcher’s first geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) mission. Three successive burns of the Fregat upper stage were performed to inject the Amos 2 spacecraft on its transfer orbit, 6 hours and 45 minutes after lift-off.

To comply with Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) requirements, Arianespace and Starsem had decided, in agreement with the Israeli operator Spacecom Ltd, that the Amos 2 spacecraft launch, initially planned by an Ariane 5, would be performed by a Soyuz launch vehicle. This decision reflects the policy set up by Arianespace and Starsem to meet customers’ needs, providing enhanced flexibility based on a family of launch vehicles.

Today’s launch was also the 12th carried out by Starsem, which is responsible for international marketing of the Soyuz launch vehicle, as well as for its operation. Starsem’s shareholders are Arianespace, EADS, the Russian Aviation and Space Agency and the Samara Space Center.

This new successful Soyuz launch clearly reflects the industrial capabilities of the Samara Space Center as well as the availability of the Russian teams in charge of Soyuz operation, managed by the Russian Aviation and Space Agency.

In 1996, Arianespace had already launched the first Israeli communications satellite, Amos 1. Co-located with Amos 1, at 4 degrees West over the Gulf ofGuinea, Amos 2 will provide additional high-power transmission capacity for Europe, the Middle East and the East coast of the United States. The satellite was designed and built by MBT Space Division of IAI. Weighing 1,374 kg at lift-off and equipped with 14 transponders, Amos 2 will be operated by Spacecom Ltd.