September 29, 2005

The Soyuz story

Soyuz traces its lineage back to the famous Semyorka rocket developed during the 1950s by Soviet engineer Sergey Korolyov.

Semyorka – a 50-year heritage

Capable of launching payloads weighing up to 1.3 t, the regularly upgraded Semyorka was the workhorse for many firsts achieved by the Soviet Union, including the 1st man-made satellite, the 1st interplanetary probes and the 1st human spaceflight.


In 1967, a new Semyorka-Soyuz version—or Soyuz for short—came on the scene. Soyuz was designed to launch 2nd-generation Soviet crewed spacecraft of the same name.

The Soyuz launcher has been continuously upgraded ever since.

Operated since 1996 by the French-Russian Starsem joint venture, 4-stage Soyuz launchers are used to lift Progress cargo spacecraft to orbital station and regularly launch commercial satellites.

75% of satellite launches by Soyuz take place from the Plessetsk Cosmodrome in Russia. Crewed Soyuz capsules and Progress cargo spacecraft launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Nearly 50 years after its 1st flight, the career of Korolyov's rocket continues today. In all, more than 1,800 Soyuz rockets have been built and launched.

A conventional launcher offering multiple advantages

Soyuz has an established track record of success in the commercial launcher market.

Some slight modifications are nevertheless required to launch it from French Guiana.

The latest Soyuz-2 version is capable of placing 3 tons into geostationary transfert orbit, whereas previous versions did not exceed 1.7 ton.

The Soyuz in Guiana project currently only concerns unmanned versions of the launcher.
The Soyuz 2-1-a made a successful 1st flight in November 2004; Soyuz 2-1-b was qualified in 2006.

Designed as a crew launch vehicle and built on unique experience, Soyuz is a reliable and robust conventional launcher that is being constantly upgraded. It takes 8 months to build at manufacturer TsSKB's facility in Samara, Russia.

Did you know?

How Soyuz got its name
Soyuz comes from the Russian and means union

Today, the name designates a series of 3- and 4-stage Russian launchers that 1st flew in 1967. Derived from the famous Semyorka rocket, the launcher transports crewed Soyuz spacecraft. For this reason, it was originally called "Soyuz launcher" or "Soyuz U", until it eventually adopted the same name as its passenger spacecraft.

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