Ten years ago, the first Soyuz-ST was launched from the Guiana Space Center

October 21, 2021

MOSCOW, October 21. - Ten years ago, on October 21, 2011, the first launch of the Soyuz-ST launch vehicle with the Fregat upper stage was carried out from the Kourou spaceport of the Guiana Space Center. The launch vehicle with the upper stage launched two European Galileo navigation satellites into orbit.

Since that day, up to four launches of Russian launch vehicles have been carried out annually from the Kourou spaceport.

The Guiana Space Center (GSC) is located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in French Guiana. Its location near the equator provides a 40% advantage in payload compared to launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The operator of launches from Europe’s Spaceport is the European launch services provider Arianespace; on the Russian side, the main contract integrator of the project is Glavkosmos (part of Roscosmos), providing interaction with Arianespace at all stages.

The Soyuz launch complex is the property of the European Space Agency.

Specially for the Russian-made launch vehicles, a new launch complex – Souyz - was built at the GSC, a memorial stone delivered from the Gagarin Launch at Baikonur, was laid with the foundation the complex.

A special feature of the launch complex is the separate transportation of the three stages of the launch vehicle and the head, followed by their docking on the launcher using a mobile maintenance tower that protects the launch vehicle, the head and the launch team in harsh weather conditions.

Two versions of the Soyuz-ST launch vehicle are used at the GSC: Soyuz-ST-A and Soyuz-ST-B. These rockets are an adaptation of the Soyuz-2 launch vehicle to the requirements of the GSC, they are produced by Progress Space Rocket Center (Samara, part of Roscosmos) for commercial spacecraft launches from Europe’s Spaceport.

Specialists of Lavochkin Association (part of Roscosmos) developed and adapted two modifications of the upper stages for the launch of spacecraft into orbits from the GSC: Fregat-M and Fregat-MT. The radio telemetry system of these upper stages can work with the European network of ground tracking stations.


Glavkosmos, JSC is a subsidiary of the State Space Corporation Roscosmos. The main task of the company is to promote the achievements of the Russian rocket and space industry to world markets and to manage complex international projects. During its more than thirty-five year history, the company has successfully fulfilled over 140 international contracts, including the launch of more than 170 spacecraft as a secondary payload.

ROSCOSMOS is a State Corporation established in August 2015 to carry out a comprehensive reform of the Russian rocket and space industry. ROSCOSMOS ensures the implementation of the state policy in space activities and its normative and legal regulations, as well as places orders for the design, production and supply of space equipment and space infrastructure. Its functions also include the development of international space cooperation, as well as the establishing of environment for application of space domain achievements for the social and economic development in Russia.