(Soyuz U/Fregat)

   General Information
Marketing Arm:

Maiden Flight:
Number Flown (Failures):
Reliability Rate:

Reported Launch Price:

February 9, 2000
4 (0)

US$35 million (2000)


Gross Lift-off Mass:
Main Diameter:
Two-stage hydrocarbon core vehicle
with four hydrocarbon boosters
+ storable upper stage

303,000 kg
42.5 m
2.95 m (core vehicle)
Launcher Architecture
Payload Accommodations
Industrial Team
Launch Log

   Studies of a Soyuz-derived vehicle featuring a Fregat upper stage began in the early 1990s. The Fregat was being developed for use on various vehicles by NPO Lavochkin based on the propulsion module of its Fobos interplanetary probes. A formal project was endorsed in early 1993 by RKA, the Russian space agency, and the Russian ministry of Defense under the Rus designation since it focused on the modernization and the russification of the Soyuz launcher. The Rus concept was later renamed Soyuz 2.
   The Soyuz 2 was planned to be introduced in 1996/97 but, due to funding shortage, its development and that of the Fregat stage were delayed well beyond the initial schedule.
   The inception of Starsem, in July 1996, provided funding to resume development work. Since the Fregat stage was planned to be available as soon as 1998 while at least two or three more years would be needed to complete the development of the basic Soyuz 2, an interim version was decided: a slightly modified
Soyuz U launcher with modernized avionics and a Fregat upper stage. This new Soyuz-Fregat vehicle was planned to replace the older Molniya M for missions beyond low-Earth orbit. Transition to a fully upgraded Soyuz 2 vehicle will follow through the introduction of the Soyuz/ST in 2001. An agreement was signed between Starsem and NPO Lavochkin to ensure an exclusive use of the Fregat on Soyuz vehicles.
   Starsem was selected by the European Space Agency in April 1997 for two Soyuz-Fregat launches to loft two pairs of Cluster 2 plasma science satellites by mid-2000. The contract was signed in August 1998 and required the vehicle to perform two successful flights before the actual mission.
   A qualification flight was successfully conducted on February 9, 2000, carrying an innovative inflatable reentry shield demonstration system. The second flight, on March 20, 2000, was a rehearsal of a standard Cluster 2 launch with a dummy mass. The launch of the two pairs of Cluster 2 satellites was successfully conducted ion July 16 and August 9, 2000. Only one launch remains manifested for the launcher, which is due to be replaced by the more modern Soyuz/ST, that of ESA’s Mars Express probe in June 2003.

 More on the history of the Soyuz family (soon to come) 

 Payload Performances
 From Baykonur Cosmodrome (LC-6):
Geostationary Transfer Orbits
(200 x 35,786 km, 7°)

1,100 kg
(46°N, 63.5°E)

(200 x 35,786 km, 28.5°)

1,350 kg
  Elliptical Orbit
(200 x 10,000 km, 51.8°)

3,100 kg
  Sun-Synchronous Orbit
(800 km, 98°)

2,700 kg
  Low Earth Orbits
(700 km, 65°)

5,000 kg
(1,500 km, 51.8°)

4,500 kg
(1,000 km, 51.8°)

4,900 kg
(500 km, 51.8°)

5,300 kg
Soyuz-Fregat Qualification Flight. Press kit. Paris, February 2000.
Starsem. Presentation brochure. Paris, October 1999.
The Soyuz-Fregat Launch Vehicle. Fact sheet. Paris, June 1999.
Soyuz 2/Fregat Rocket – Space Complex. A. Smirnov, V. Asiushkin, V. Serebrennikov, S. Ishin, NPO Lavochkin. IAF, Beijing, October 7-11, 1996.

© Takyon International – 1997/2000