Arianespace in France launched two satellites on the Russian Soyuz ST rocket. Telemetry data soon revealed that the spacecraft were placed in elliptical (rather than circular) orbit and in a lower orbit than anticipated; as a result, the satellites are operationally redundant, aerospace engineers indicate.
Arianespace officials found that an anomaly occurred during “the flight phase involving the [Russian] Fregat upper stage, causing the satellites to be injected into a noncompliant orbit.” Specifically, “complementary observations gathered after separation of the Galileo FOC M1 satellites on Soyuz Flight VS09 have highlighted a discrepancy between targeted and reached orbit,” according to Arianespace officials.
Arianespace Chairman and CEO Stéphane Israël launched an inquiry into the event to “determine the scope of the anomaly and its impact on the mission” in conjunction with the company’s Russian Soyuz partners in the program (Russian space agency Roscomos and manufacturers RKTs-Progress and NPO Lavotchkine) and ESA and its industrial partners.
“Our aim is of course to fully understand this anomaly,” Israël explains. “Everybody at Arianespace is totally focused on meeting this objective. Starting Monday, Arianespace, in association with ESA and the European Commission, will designate an independent inquiry board to determine the exact causes of this anomaly and to draw conclusions and develop corrective actions that will allow us to resume launches of Soyuz from the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in complete safety and as quickly as possible. The board will coordinate its work with Russian partners in the Soyuz at CSG program. Arianespace is determined to help meet the European Union’s goals for the Galileo program without undue delay.”