Follow the key events of the Soyuz ST-A rocket’s ascent into orbit from the Guiana Space Center with the first COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation, or CSG 1, radar observation satellite, the European Space Agency’s CHEOPS exoplanet telescope, and three CubeSats.
A listing of exact times for the flight’s major events is posted below.
Data source: Arianespace
T-0:00:03: Engines at Full Thrust
The five main engines of the Soyuz ST-A rocket’s core stage and four strap-on boosters are at full thrust.
Producing more than 900,000 pounds of thrust, the Soyuz ST-A (Soyuz 2-1a) rocket soars into the sky from the Guiana Space Center.
T+0:01:57: Jettison Boosters
The Soyuz rocket’s four strap-on boosters, each powered by an RD-107A engine, are jettisoned after consuming their propellant.
T+0:03:16: Jettison Fairing
The ST-type payload fairing is released from the Soyuz rocket when it reaches the edge of the upper atmosphere. The 13.5-foot-diameter fairing protects the payload during the launch countdown and the flight through the dense lower atmosphere.
T+0:04:47: Core Stage Separation
Having burned its propellant, the core stage of the Soyuz rocket, also known as the second stage, separates and the third stage’s RD-0110 engine ignites to continue the flight.
T+0:08:49: Soyuz/Fregat Separation
The Soyuz rocket’s third stage releases the Fregat-M upper stage just shy of orbital velocity.
T+0:09:49: First Fregat Ignition
The hydrazine-fueled Fregat upper stage ignites to place the CSG 1 satellite into its targeted sun-synchronous polar orbit.
T+0:20:13: First Fregat Shutdown
After a 10-minute, 24-second burn, the Fregat upper stage shuts down in preparation for deployment of the Italian CSG 1 radar observation satellite.
T+0:22:43: CSG 1 Separation
The dual-use CSG 1 radar satellite for Italy separates from the Fregat upper stage in a 384-mile-high (619-kilometer) orbit inclined 97.8 degrees to the equator.
T+1:00:55: Second Fregat Ignition
The Fregat main engine ignites again for a 12-second burn to maneuver out of the CSG 1 satellite’s orbit in preparation for jettison of the APAS-S multi-payload adapter structure.
T+1:41:40: APAS-S Separation
The Fregat upper stage jettisons the top of the APAS-S multi-payload adapter structure to reveal the European Space Agency’s CHEOPS satellite for separation.
T+1:52:35: Third Fregat Ignition
The Fregat main engine ignites for an 11-second burn to maneuver into higher orbit for deployment of ESA’s CHEOPS satellite.
T+2:20:55: Fourth Fregat Ignition
The Fregat upper stage ignites again for a 26-second burn to place the European Space Agency’s CHEOPS satellite in a 435-mile-high (700-kilometer) orbit with an inclination of 98.2 degrees.
T+2:24:41: CHEOPS Separation
The European Space Agency’s Characterizing Exoplanet Satellite, or CHEOPS, separates from the Fregat upper stage to begin its three-and-a-half-year mission measuring the sizes of planets around other stars.
T+3:29:15: Fifth Fregat Ignition
The Fregat main engine ignites for a 16-second burn to begin lowering its orbit for deployment of three European CubeSats.
T+4:02:35: Sixth Fregat Ignition
The Fregat main engine ignites for a 17-second burn to reach a 310-mile-high (500-kilometer) orbit for separation of three CubeSats.
T+4:10:44: Begin Separation of CubeSats
The Soyuz mission’s three auxiliary payloads begin their deployment sequence. The OPS-SAT CubeSat from the European Space Agency is a free-for-use, in-orbit testbed for new software, applications and techniques in satellite control. The EyeSat CubeSat from the French space agency, CNES, will observe the zodiacal light and image the Milky Way. The French ANGELS CubeSat carries an Argos data collection payload to relay data from remote weather stations and buoys. All of the CubeSats will be separated from the Fregat upper stage by T+4:13:14, followed by a deorbit burn by the Fregat for a destructive re-entry.
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