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Soyuz Launches Israeli Satellite.

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Soyuz rocket.
Soyuz rocket with a Fregat upper stage: Image credit: Arianespace.

A Soyuz rocket with a Fregat upper stage successfully launched Israel's AMOS 2 telecommunications satellite on Saturday. The launch occurred at 2130 UTC (4:30 pm EST) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, and was jointly managed by Arianespace and Starsem. AMOS 2 will supply the Middle East, Europe and Eastern US with satellite broadcasting. This was the 1,684th mission for the Soyuz family of vehicles.

The 1,684th launch of a Soyuz family rocket (using the Soyuz-Fregat version) took place at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The launcher lifted off as scheduled at 2:30 a.m. local time on December 28 (i.e. 21:30 UTC on Saturday December 27, 10:30 p.m. Paris time on December 27).

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 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 launcher, as well as for its operation. Starsem's shareholders are Arianespace, EADS, the Russian Aviation and Space Agency and the Samara Space Center.

The 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 of Guinea, 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 liftoff and equipped with 14 transponders, Amos 2 will be operated by Spacecom Ltd.

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