Galileo Launch Scrubbed; Possible on Friday

October 20, 2011  - By

UPDATE: Following the work performed on the Soyuz launch facility and the associated additional checks, Arianespace has decided to restart the countdown operations for the launch VS01, Soyuz STB – Galileo IOV-1. Liftoff of the Soyuz ST-B launcher is now set for Friday, October 21, at
10:30:26 a.m.  (UTC) Friday, October 21
07:30:26 a.m.  (French Guiana time)
12:30:26 p.m.  (Paris time)
06:30:26 a.m.  (Washington, D.C., time)
02:30:26 p.m.  (Moscow time)

Galileo's Soyuz awaits it's flight.

A problem with the ground-support fueling system for the rocket carrying two Galileo in-orbit validation (IOV) satellites has delayed their launch either until Friday, October 21, or perhaps indefinitely.

A statement from launch operator Arianespace said, “A ground support system leak during third-stage fueling of the Soyuz launcher was the cause of today’s delay for this medium-lift vehicle’s inaugural flight from French Guiana. Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall said the leak was in a launch pad pneumatic system that activates the pre-planned disconnection of fueling lines to Soyuz’ third stage before the vehicle lifts off."

“During the final phase of third-stage fueling, there apparently was a change in pressure in this pneumatic system, and we observed the unplanned disconnection of the two connectors that enable the fueling of Soyuz’ third stage with liquid oxygen and kerosene,” Le Gall told reporters during a briefing at the Kourou Spaceport’s Jupiter mission control room. “The problem apparently is due to a valve leak in this pneumatic system, and we have taken the decision to empty the launcher and replace the valve.”

Le Gall underscored that the identified anomaly is in the ground-based pneumatic system, not on the launch vehicle. Fueling of the Soyuz is performed inside the mobile service gantry, which continues to remain in place on the launch pad. The launcher and its payload of two Galileo IOV satellites are in a safe mode, as is the ELS launch site.

Le Gall said a decision is to be made later today on whether to reschedule the liftoff for tomorrow. “We will confirm this once the valve is replaced; the decision also will take into account the launch team members — who worked all night during the original countdown.” If the launch is approved for tomorrow, October 21, the lift-off time would be four minutes earlier — at 7:30 a.m. local time.

One scientist who is following the situation from afar commented that possibly lyrics by the rock group Queen would be appropriate for the launch watch:

"Open your eyes. Look up to the skies and see
Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very fright'ning me
(Galileo) Galileo (Galileo) Galileo
Galileo figaro – magnifico"

Artist's depiction of a Galileo satellites being ejected from the dispenser.

This article is tagged with , and posted in GNSS