Soyuz launches with 6 satellites in French Guiana

AP News
Posted: Dec 16, 2011 9:20 PM
Soyuz launches with 6 satellites in French Guiana

A Soyuz rocket carrying six satellites launched Friday from French Guiana in the Russian-built rocket model's second mission this year.

It was to first release a French Earth observation satellite, Pleiades 1. Next to come would be four French micro-satellites and a Chilean Earth observation satellite was to be released last.

Pleiades is designed to provide images to military and civilian customers, while the four smaller satellites will be used to gather electronic intelligence for the military, according to Arianespace.

The Chilean satellite will take images for mapping, agricultural monitoring and the management of natural resources, said Arianespace, the commercial arm of the 13-country European Space Agency.

The satellites weighed a total of more than 4,400 pounds (2,000 kilograms).

The mission was the final one this year for Arianespace.

A Soyuz rocket first launched from Arianespace's complex in French Guiana in late October, carrying the first two satellites of the European Union's Galileo navigation system. It was the maiden voyage of the Russian rocket outside the former Soviet Union.