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Chapman Freeborn assists with Russian probe launch

Chapman Freeborn has provided a series of charters to Northern Russia to support the launch of two satellites from Plesetsk Cosmodrome.

The aircraft charter specialist assisted with the preparations to launch to the widely-anticipated SMOS/Proba-2 on November 2nd by providing seven flights for engineers and European Space Agency (ESA) representatives over a two-month period.

Flight operations commenced on August 31st, with an initial TU 134A charter to fly 21 specialists from Moscow about 1,000 kilometres north to Arkhangelsk to oversee the arrival of satellite equipment into Russia from France.

Following customs clearance and loading of the satellite for onward transportation by train, the group flew ahead to meet the cargo at Plesetsk Cosmodrome, a Russian spaceport situated in the Arkhangelsk region.

In the following weeks six further Tupolev charters were provided by Chapman Freeborn, culminating in a final flight on the day of the launch for a VIP delegation including the head of the ESA and other senior figures from the organisation, as well as directors from Eurockot Launch Services and Thales Alenia Space.

The private air charters from Moscow's Sheremetyevo (SVO1) and Vnukovo (VKO) airports were closely managed by Chapman Freeborn's Bart Lorijnen and Anton Frolov, with operations to Plesetsk requiring special clearances from both the Russian military and Federal Security Service (FSB).

Chapman Freeborn has 32 offices in 22 countries across five continents. The company coordinated more than 5,000 cargo and passenger charters last year.

Eurockot Launch Services is the joint venture operated by Europe’s leading satellite and launch vehicle manufacturer, EADS Astrium. Astrium's partner in the joint venture is Russia's largest space company, Khrunchev Space Center. Eurockot provides launch services for earth observation, science and communication satellites into Low Earth Orbits and operates Europes only small launch vehicle, the Rockot launcher from Plesetsk Cosmodrome.

SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) was designed to produce global maps of high resolution of the Earth's soil moisture and ocean salinity based on the continuous exchange of water between oceans, atmosphere and land. The data will, amongst others, allow an improved forecasting of weather extremes.

Proba-2 (Project for On-Board Autonomy) will evaluate new hard- and software technologies and on-board autonomy for future space missions and will demonstrate new sun observation instruments.

This launch was Eurockot's second successful mission for the European Space Agency.

Plesetsk is the most frequently used spaceport in the world. It is situated about 800 km northeast of Moscow and 200 km south of the city of Archangel. Plesetsk is Europe's only continental launch site and ideally suited to high inclination and sun-synchronous launches into low earth orbits.

20th November 2009