While Soyuz rockets are more usually used to being used to launch spacecraft and satellites to low and medium Earth orbits, the most recent flight from the Sinnamary launch site near Kourou was unusually launching a satellite on its way to a geostationary orbit.  At 1156 GMT on 18 May a Soyuz ST-A (Fregat M) successfully lifted off from its launch pad to inject the SES-15 communications satellite into a sub-geosynchnronous transfer orbit (GTO).  A Sub-GTO is one with an apogee less than 36,000km from which the satellite will use its own electric XIPS-25 engines to raise both the apogee and perigee to a full 36,000 near circular orbit.

SES-15 is safely launched. Courtesy: Arianespace

The 2,302kg spacecraft was built for the commercial satellite SES by Boeing using its BSS-702SP satellite platform/bus design.  The launch had previously been delayed by industrial action and social protests in French Guiana.

Apart from its Ka-band communications role, the spacecraft is also carrying a WAAS air traffic management payload for the US Federal Aviation Authority.