PARIS - Arianespace continued Ariane 5’s track record of success today by using the heavy-lift workhorse to orbit a mixed payload of telecommunications and meteorological spacecraft on the launcher’s 63rd flight from the Spaceport in French Guiana.
For this third Ariane 5 mission of 2012, the EchoStar XVII and MSG-3 passengers were deployed into geostationary transfer orbit during a 34-minute flight. Total payload lift performance was approximately 9,640 kg., which included the combined mass of the EchoStar XVII and MSG-3 spacecraft, plus the launch vehicle’s dual-passenger dispenser system and satellite integration hardware.
“By orbiting these two satellites, we have once again demonstrated the flexibility of Ariane 5 – which was capable of simultaneously launching one of the largest telecommunications satellites ever built for an American private operator, along with one of the most capable meteorological satellites developed for a European government organization,” said Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall.
Ariane 5’s accuracy was confirmed once again on today’s flight, with the following estimated orbital parameters at the cryogenic upper stage’s injection:
- Perigee: 249.4 km. for a target of 249.6 km.
- Apogee: 35,923 km. for a target of 35,942 km.
- Inclination: 6.00 deg. for a target of 6.00 deg.
With an estimated liftoff mass of 6,100 kg., EchoStar XVII will be operated by Hughes Network Systems from an orbital position of 107.1° West – delivering broadband services to consumers, businesses and government customers across North America. The telecommunications spacecraft is based on Space Systems/Loral’s 1300-series platform and is to operate in the Ka-band.
MSG-3 was the ninth Meteosat-series weather satellite launched by Ariane vehicles since 1981. Weighing approximately 2,000 kg. at liftoff, it will provide highly detailed imagery of Europe, the North Atlantic and Africa for use by meteorologists and national weather forecasters. Resulting from a close collaboration involving EUMETSAT (the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites) and the European Space Agency, MSG-3 was produced in an industry consortium led by Thales Alenia Space.
Following the flight’s liftoff at sunset and its subsequent satellite deployment, Le Gall took the opportunity to acknowledge the industrial and infrastructure teams that continue to support Arianespace in its commercial Ariane operations. He noted the Ariane 5 for this mission was fitted with the 1,200th engine produced for Ariane vehicles by the Safran group’s Snecma propulsion business unit.
“Thanks to all of you, Ariane 5 is a system that works…works very well…and will continue to work for a long time!” he added. “Following tonight’s launch, and with all of the contracts we’ve signed since the start of this year, our order book effectively covers no less than 22 firm Ariane 5 launches, which – at a pace of six to seven missions per year – guarantees us more than three years of activity.”
Arianespace’s next Ariane 5 mission is scheduled for August 2, carrying the Intelsat 20 satellite for Intelsat, along with HYLAS 2 for Avanti Communications.