Roscosmos Suspends Soyuz Launches From French Guiana

Soyuz blastoff Feb 10
Soyuz Feb. 10
Credit: Arianespace

MOSCOW—Roscosmos will suspend launches of Soyuz rockets from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana in response to European Union sanctions on Russia, the CEO of the Russian space corporation Dmitry Rogozin said Feb. 26 on social media.

The Roscosmos subsidiary—Progress Rocket Space Center—which manufactures Soyuz 2 medium-lift launch vehicles, was included by the EU on a list of Russian entities cut off from Western products, technologies and money on Feb 25.

Roscosmos confirmed that 87 Russian specialists are currently in Kourou. These include employees from Progress, NPO Lavochkin—which manufactures Fregat-MT boosters for Soyuz—and TsENKI Center for Operation of Space Ground Based Infrastructure.

Roscosmos supplies Soyuz-ST, a variant of Soyuz-2 rocket adapted for launches from the Guiana Space Center. The Russian vehicle has conducted 27 successful launches from Kourou since 2011, most recently on Feb. 10, when it orbited 34 OneWeb satellites. 

The European Space Agency (ESA) reported in January it planned to make two more Soyuz launches in 2022, each carrying a pair of Galileo navigation satellites. The first of these launches is planned for April 5. 

A Roscosmos representative told Aviation Week that the Russian rocket for this launch had already been delivered to the spaceport and would remain stored there after Russian personnel leave Kourou. Dmitry Loskutov, head of Roscosmos commercial arm Glavkosmos, said in an interview to Russian Komsomolskaya Pravda radio Feb. 26 that the launch of Soyuz from Kourou without the Russian specialists would be impossible.

ESA has not said whether these launches will be postponed or shifted to other launch vehicles.

All other areas of Roscosmos cooperation with Europe appear to remain intact for now. According to Loskutov, the launches of OneWeb satellites by Soyuzes under the contract with France’s Arianespace and its Starsem affiliate will take place in 2022 as planned. The first of the remaining six missions is to take place March 5 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Another important European-Russian program is the launch of the ExoMars mission designed to search for signs of indigenous life on Mars. It includes the Russian Kazachok lander and ESA’s Rosalind Franklin rover, which are conducting trials at Thales Alenia Space in Torino, Italy. According to Rogozin, the lander and the rover are to be delivered to Baikonur in April. Their launch atop a Russian Proton-M heavy-lift rocket is expected between Sept. 20 and Oct. 1. 

ESA confirmed on Feb. 25 that despite the full-scale military invasion of Ukraine, it is “committed to continuing the work of all its program activities, including the ongoing ExoMars launch campaign.”

Rogozin also cast doubt on whether Russia would continue cooperation with the U.S. on development of the Venera-D probe mission. It is expected to fly to Venus in 2029 to explore the planet’s environment.

A source from Roscosmos told Aviation Week that Russia has no way to limit its participation on the International Space Station, its major cooperation effort with the U.S. in space for the last 20 years. Rogozin confirmed a few days ago that Roscosmos places a high value on its professional relations with NASA.

Maxim Pyadushkin

Maxim holds a key position at AW&ST’s Russian partner – Air Transport Observer magazine ( In the past he was in charge of several ATO’s sister aerospace publications and earlier worked for Moscow-based CAST defense think-tank.