March 11, 20:00
PARIS, September 13 (Itar-Tass) —— Two Soyuz space vehicles prepared for the launch from Kourou spaceport (French Guiana) need changing of their third stages, a source of the Arianespace launch service corporation told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.
The third stages of two rockets will be returned to Russia, and new stages will be delivered to Kourou to replace them, Arianespace spokesman Mario de Lepine said.
The replacement of the rocket parts will have no effect on the timetable for Soyuz launches from Kourou. The first is planned for October 20, and the second for December this year, he added.
The stages must be replaced due to the need to re-check its RD-0110 engines at the production facilities. Such an engine was in the Soyuz-U rocket, which failed to carry the Progress M-12M cargo craft to the planned orbit in August this year. According to the Roskosmos commission, the failure was caused by the clogging of the passage for fuel supply to the engine gas generators. Experts concluded that the production defect was accidental. However, it will be possible to regard it as a single one only after the re-checking of all the engine units at the plant.
At present, four Soyuzes are prepared in Kourou for the launching. The first of the Russian rockets will carry two satellites of the European Space Agency to orbit. It is a joint project of the European Union and the ESA.
The programme to launch Soyuzes from Kourou is implemented in accordance with the intergovernmental agreement between Russia and France signed in November 2003. It is planned to carry out two to four launches a year. The spaceport location close to the equator allows increasing the load of Soyuzes to three tonnes instead of 1.7 tonnes when rockets are launched from Baikonur.