Arianespace has inaugurated FCube (Fregat Fueling Facility), the new building dedicated to fueling the Fregat upper stage of the Soyuz launch vehicle. Located at the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, this new facility will give Arianespace greater flexibility in managing its launch manifest, while also increasing launch capacity with Ariane, Soyuz and Vega for the greater benefit of all customers.
The FCube fueling facility, located at the Soyuz launch complex (ELS), is now operational after a design and construction phase lasting more than two years.
Most of the construction was handled by local contractors, in a project deploying up to 60 workers and stretching from March 2013 to April 2015. The project fully met its strict quality, budget and schedule requirements.
The FCube facility will help optimize the operation of the three launch systems deployed by Arianespace at the Guiana Space Center – Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega. Each of these systems now has its own propellant loading systems at its launch complex.
Spanning some 1,152 square meters, this new facility will reduce the length of a Soyuz launch campaign by more than a week, thanks to an innovative design that improves the propellant loading process on the Fregat upper stage. Furthermore, the S3B fueling hall, which previously performed this task, is now free to be used to load propellants on satellites, thus increasing Arianespace’s customer handling capacity at the Guiana Space Center. The commissioning of FCube will optimize and speed up the transition between launch campaigns, while also ensuring higher availability of the three launchers in the Arianespace family.
This investment, approved by Arianespace in 2013, is a key to the launch rate ramp-up at the Guiana Space Center.
Arianespace Chairman and CEO Stéphane Israël gave the keynote address at the inauguration ceremony, stating: “FCube is a very timely addition to support the rise in launch rates spurred by the success of our launcher family. For both Arianespace and Guiana Space Center, this facility will enhance competitiveness, flexibility and robustness, while increasing our capacity and business volumes.
We have already reaped the fruits of this investment with the signature of the OneWeb contract: the flexibility of our launch solutions was a key asset in the customer’s decision. I would like to thank the people and companies who contributed to the design and construction of this building, on time, to budget and in line with technical specifications. And of course my thanks go to the ESA launcher directorate and the French Ministry of Finance, within the scope of the LODEOM law that helped us finance this project.”