MOSCOW, April 28 (Itar-Tass) —— The launch of a Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with a European weather satellite aboard from Baikonur has been postponed till the second half of July.
The head of the Permanent Mission of the European Space Agency in Russia Rene Pichel quoted the Starsem as saying that “additional measures are needed to ensure the availability of drop zones for elements of the Soyuz rocket to be launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to orbit Eumetsat's MetOp-B satellite”.
The launch of MetOp-B, previously scheduled on May 23, has therefore been pushed back several weeks. The satellite, currently at Starsem's facilities in Baikonur, has been placed under maximum security conditions.
“A new launch date will be announced as soon as possible,” Starsem said.
Sources in the Russian rocket and space industry told Itar-Tass that “the launch of the European satellite has been postponed because of the absence of permission from Kazakhstan”.
Kazakhstan has referred to the “absence of an agreement on the drop zone for spaceship launched to polar orbits”.
Starsem is the Soyuz company, dedicated to providing commercial launch services with the reliable and proven Soyuz family of launch vehicles.
The European-Russian organisation brings together all key players involved in the production and operation of Soyuz and is responsible for international sales of the world's most versatile launch vehicle.
Created in 1996, Starsem offers the Soyuz for a broad range of mission needs, including satellite telecommunications systems, scientific spacecraft, and Earth observation / meteorological platforms.
Starsem provides each customer a true turnkey service, from manufacture of the launch vehicle to mission preparations at the Baikonur Cosmodrome and successful in-orbit delivery of payloads.