Sentinel-1B and Microsope launched aboard Soyuz

After a rare Soyuz scrub due to a rocket issue (quickly resolved), the Soyuz 2 operated by Arianespace rocket blasted off from Kourou, French Guiana carrying Sentinel 1B, an Earth observing satellite for the hugely ambitious Copernicus constellation that will continuously observe Earth in unprecedented detail, and Microscope, a physics satellite that will test Einstein’s equivalence principle, as well as several ESA-sponsored student CubeSats.  As an Arianespace flight, this gets the extra treat of rocketcam footage, not customarily provided by the Russians, but provided as a matter of course by Arianespace because it’s awesome.  😉

Oh, one other fun thing to notice: they report the third stage (Fregat) lighting before the second (core) stage is seen to fall away.  This is not an error; Soyuz is unusual in that it lights its upper stage before dropping the core stage.  The interstage structure is just a series of struts so that the exhaust can get out before the lower stage drops away.  I’m not sure why it does this, but this aspect of the design goes all the way back to the original R-7 ICBM that became the Soyuz family.


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