FRENCH GUIANA - Arianespace orbited a pair of commercial relay satellites for direct television broadcasting services tonight on Ariane 5’s fourth heavy-lift mission of 2011.
During a 38-minute flight from the Spaceport in French Guiana, this workhorse vehicle lofted the ASTRA 1N and BSAT-3c/JCSAT-110R spacecraft, delivering an estimated payload lift performance to geostationary transfer orbit of 9,095 kg. – which included a combined mass of 8,240 kg. for the two satellites, along with the launcher’s dual-payload dispenser system and associated integration hardware.
It marked the 203rd flight of an Ariane since the family of European-developed commercial launchers began operation in 1979, and was the 59th launch of an Ariane 5.
The precision of Ariane 5 was demonstrated once again tonight, highlighting the on-target repeatability of this vehicle. The estimated orbital parameters at its cryogenic upper stage’s injection were:
- Perigee: 249.7 km. for a target of 249.7 km.
- Apogee: 35,957 km. for a target of 35,952 km.
- Inclination: 2.01 deg. for a target of 2.00 deg.
ASTRA 1N was deployed first during the mission, and marked the 11th satellite launched for SES ASTRA by Arianespace – and the 34th entrusted to the company by the SES group.
Fitted with 52 active Ku-band transponders, ASTRA 1N was built by EADS Astrium based on the Eurostar E3000 platform, and had an estimated liftoff mass of 5,350 kg. It initially is to deliver interim capacity from an orbital position of 28.2 deg. East, and subsequently will move to SES ASTRA’s prime location at 19.2 deg. East for primary and backup services during a designed operational lifetime of 15 years.
The BSAT-3c/JCSAT-110R spacecraft – which was released second in tonight’s flight sequence – was manufactured by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems as part of a turnkey contract for Japanese operators B-SAT Corporation and SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation. Produced using an A2100 A platform and weighing approximately 2,910 kg. at launch, this was the 41st Lockheed Martin satellite provided to Arianespace for launch.
BSAT-3c/JCSAT-110R is equipped with 24 active Ku-band transponders, and will be positioned at 110 deg. East longitude, with its primary mission to provide direct TV broadcast links for all of Japan.
Today’s successful flight reinforced Arianespace’s commercial launch services leadership role, which will be further strengthened with the upcoming introduction of its medium-lift Soyuz and lightweight Vega – to operate side-by-side with Ariane 5 at the Spaceport.
“Since the beginning of this year, we have launched an Automated Transfer Vehicle to the International Space Station, six telecommunications satellites, and six constellation satellites,” explained Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall. “It shows that Arianespace leads the pack once again this year, as – since the beginning of 2011 – only two other satellites have been launched by our competitors; and one of those, to our knowledge, did not arrive intact in orbit.”
Arianespace’s previous Ariane 5 flights during 2011 orbited the ST-2 and GSAT-8 telecommunications satellites on May 20; the Yahsat Y1A and Intelsat New Dawn relay spacecraft on April 22; and the Johannes Kepler Automated Transfer Vehicle on February 16. In addition, a July 13 Soyuz mission from Baikonur Cosmodrome – performed on behalf of Arianespace by its Starsem affiliate – delivered six spacecraft for Globalstar’s second-generation satellite network.
“And the successes will continue, as we still have in our order book no less than 18 Ariane 5 launches, to which are added 17 launches of Soyuz and the future missions with Vega,” Le Gall said.
Arianespace’s next Ariane 5 mission is set for September 9, carrying another SES satellite – SES 2 – along with Arabsat 5C for the Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat).
See the Arianespace launch kit for further details.