The 1658th flight of a Soyuz launch vehicle took place successfully on Monday, May 21, 2001 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The launcher lifted off on schedule at 04.32 a.m. Baikonur local time (00.32 a.m. in Paris), and the Progress spacecraft was accurately placed on the target orbit.
This was the fourth Soyuz mission in 2001 and the 62nd successful launch in a row associated with the Soyuz family of launchers. It was also the first launch of a Soyuz launch vehicle equipped with modernized engines in the first and second stages. Developed to meet the needs of the International Space Station, this modernized version, which has just been qualified in flight, will also be used for Soyuz/ST. This new version of the Soyuz launch vehicle, equipped with a larger fairing, is currently being developed on the initiative of Starsem. This launch represents a major phase in this development.
9 of these 62 successes were human flights. After today's mission, 6 additional Soyuz launches are planned during the year from Baikonur Cosmodrome. Soyuz sustained launch rate confirms its position as one of the world's primary launch vehicles. This rate also demonstrates Samara Space Center's continuous production capacity, as well as the operational capability of launch teams at Baikonur under the authority of the Russian Aviation and Space Agency.
Starsem is the Soyuz Company, bringing together all key players involved in the production, operation and international commercial marketing of the world's most versatile launch vehicle. Shareholders in Starsem are EADS (35%), the Russian Aviation and Space Agency (25%), the Samara Space Center (25%) and Arianespace (15%). The Starsem manifest for Soyuz missions currently includes contracted launches for Space Systems/Loral, Alcatel Space Industries, the European Space Agency and Eumetsat.