Spaceflight Insider

The Hangar / Soyuz-2 (Arianespace)

Soyuz Photo

Photo Credit: Jeremy Beck / SpaceFlight Insider

Arianespace Logo

The Soyuz launch vehicle is a medium-lift launch vehicle that began service as the R-7 rocket which the Soviet Union used to launch Sputnik 1 in October 1957 and the first human into space in April 1961. The most frequently launched rocket in the world, Soyuz has been continually updated under a variety of model names since that time and has been credited with more than 1,800 launches. It is the primary crewed launch vehicle in Russia and the former Soviet Union and is one of the primary transport vehicles to the International Space Station.

The vehicle was added to the list of options the European Space Agency and Arianespace offer for satellite launches in 2002. Soyuz is provided by the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos). Under a partnership with Starsem (called Soyuz at CSG or Arianespace Soyuz), the Soyuz rocket launches payloads from a dedicated Soyuz launch site at Guiana Space Centre (CSG) in Kourou, French Guiana. The Soyuz first launched from CSG on October 21, 2011. The Russian Federal Space Agency continues to launch its own payloads from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.* To date, 17 Soyuz launches have been conducted from Kourou, with only one partial failure.

Vehicle Capability/Description

The Soyuz launch vehicle consists of the following primary components: a kerosene / liquid oxygen first stage comprising four liquid-fueled boosters (first stage), a kerosene / liquid oxygen core (second) stage, and a kerosene / liquid oxygen third stage. Soyuz also includes a restartable Unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) / Nitrogen tetroxide (NTO) Fregat upper stage, which supports the payload adapter and fairing.

Mission Profile

A typical Soyuz mission includes the following three phases: (1) ascent of the three-stage Soyuz, (2) ignition of the Fregat upper stage flight profile for payload(s) delivery to final orbit(s), and (3) use of the Fregat for deorbiting or orbit disposal maneuvers.

At ignition, the four boosters and the core stage ignite. The boosters provide thrust for 118 seconds before being jettisoned. The core stage fires for an additional 168 seconds before being jettisoned. The third stage fires for 270 seconds before the Fregat with payload is separated on a suborbital path.

The Fregat upper stage is a restartable upper stage (up to 7 times), allowing delivering the payload to different orbits in case of a shared launch. The Fregat phase typically consists of one or two burns to reach the targeted orbit, depending on the orbit altitude, eccentricity, and inclination:

  • For elliptic equatorial orbit including GTO, a single Fregat boost injects the payload into the targeted orbit (direct ascent profile);
  • For circular or highly inclined orbits, a first Fregat burn is used to reach an intermediate orbit, followed by a coast phase, the duration of which depends on the targeted orbit, and a second Fregat burn to reach the final orbit. After spacecraft separation(s), Fregat can remain attached to the primary payload, depending on mission requirements. Its maneuvers are used to transfer the payload into a disposal orbit or to trigger a controlled re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.

Vehicle Status

Soyuz-Fregat remains operational. Arianespace plans to use the vehicle until 2019, after which it may be replaced by Ariane 6.2, which is an anticipated medium-lift version of Ariane 6.


Launch History
Status Operational
Launch sites Guiana Space Centre (CSG)
Total flights 17
Successes 16
Failures 1 Partial Failure
First flight October 21, 2011
Notable payloads Galileo, Sentinel 1A/1B

Soyuz at CSG has launched multiple satellites for the ESA’s Galileo global positioning system constellation as well as two Sentinel Earth observation satellites and several other science payloads.

Height 46.2 m
Diameter 10.3 m
Mass 308,000 kg
First Stage (Four Boosters)
Manufacturers Samara Space Center TsSKB-Progress
Engine RD-107A 4-chamber engine
Length 19.6 meters
Diameter 2.68 m
Empty mass 3,784 kg
Propellant mass 39,160 kg
Gross mass 44,413 kg
Thrust 1,021.3 kN (Vacuum)
838.5 kN Sea (Level)
Propellant Kerosene / LOx
Specific impulse 319 seconds (Vacuum)
262 seconds (Sea Level)
Burn time 118 seconds
Second Stage
Manufacturer Samara Space Center TsSKB-Progress
Engine RD-180A 4-chamber engine
Length 27.1 m
Diameter 2.95 meters)
Empty mass 6,545 kg
Propellant mass 90,100 kg
Gross mass 99,765 kg)
Thrust 990.2 kN (Vacuum)
792.5 kN (Sea Level)
Propellant Kerosene / LOx
Specific impulse 319 seconds (Vacuum)
255 seconds (Sea Level)
Burn time 286 seconds
Third Stage
Manufacturer Samara Space Center TsSKB-Progress
Engine RD-0124 4-chamber engine
Length 6.7 m
Diameter 2.66 meters
Empty mass 2,355 kg
Propellant mass 25,400 kg
Gross mass 27,755 kg
Thrust 297.9 kN
Fuel Kerosene / LOx
Specific impulse 359 seconds (Vacuum)
Burn time 270 seconds
Fregat Upper Stage
Manufacturer NPO Lavotchkin
No. engines 1
Height 1.5 m
Diameter 3.35 meters
Empty mass 902 kg
Propellant mass 6,638 kg
Gross mass 7,540 kg
Thrust Two modes (Vacuum):
3,147.3 lbf (14.00 kN)
4,462.5 lbf (19.85 kN)
Propellant UDMH/NTO
Specific impulse 332 seconds
Burn time Up to 1,100 s