SOYUZ in ASAP external position
The SOYUZ launcher has the capability to carry up to 4 micro-satellites in external position.
The 4 satellites of ELISA mission should be put into orbit by a SOYUZ launcher.
The VEGA launcher has not yet been used to put satellites into orbit.
The DNEPR launcher is derived from the "SATAN" SS-18 (or RS 20) that is the world most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM): this program runs until 2020.
It is traded by - International Space Company KOSMOTRAS -, in Moscow.
The first and second stages of the launch vehicle (LV) are unmodified standard SS-18 ICBM stages. The third stage is a standard SS-18 stage with modified control system flight software. The three stages have liquid propulsion motors.
The standard DNEPR 1 configuration, like the one used for DEMETER launch, allows to inject 700 to 1000 kg of payload at 700 km, the performance depending on the required inclination of the orbit.
The DNEPR launcher is recurrently prepared in the available facilities of the Baïkonur cosmodrome, and launched from an underground silo.
After being lifted off from its launch silo by hot gas pressure, the launcher first stage engine is then ignited, at about twenty meters in altitude. A consequence of this technique is the minimization of the mechanical constraints on the payload. Thus the loads measured during DEMETER flight were really low, far below the specifications of the DNEPR user's manual.
Due to the shelter offered by the silo, and to the former objective of the SS-18, launch is possible under virtually any weather conditions. Consequently, the risk of launch postponement is rather low.
At end of 2004, DNEPR had a background of 161 flights, including four successful commercial launches, and an excellent reliability rate of 0,97. DEMETER was launched on flight 161.
The trajectory profile of one launch is quite standard until the ignition of the third stage. Then, the third stage performs a 180° turn, and is pulled by four bi-propellant engines. The payload adapters are then cut one by one from the upper stage by pyrotechnic screws, and the satellites smoothly separate with no differential velocity, only thanks to the acceleration of the upper stage.
ARIANE 5 ASAP
Ariane 5, in the continuation of Ariane 4, offered the opportunity to launch piggyback passengers thanks to the Ariane Structure for Auxiliary Payload (ASAP).
This structure was added at the low part of the fairing when the main passenger leaved sufficient performance margins and could receive up to eight satellites with an individual mass of 120 kg each.
PARASOL, together with the ESSAIM constellation were launched on Ariane 5 (V 165) on December 18, 2004.