Launch preparations with Soyuz, Ariane 5 and Vega keep Arianespace on track for 12 missions in 2017
Arianespace’s objective of performing 12 launches in 2017 is backed by a high level of activity at the Spaceport in French Guiana, where mission preparations, payload checkout and launch vehicle hardware are in process for upcoming flights with Soyuz, Ariane 5 and Vega.
The basic three-stage Soyuz launcher for Flight VS17 is raised into position in the ELS launch zone, where it was fitted with the SES-15 payload and Fregat upper stage.
For the company’s next liftoff, a medium-lift Soyuz is now in the Spaceport’s ELS launch zone, fitted with its SES-15 telecommunications satellite payload. Undergoing the countdown for a morning departure on Thursday, May 18, this launch is designated Flight VS17 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system – signifying the 17th mission with the Russian-built workhorse vehicle since it entered service at the Spaceport in 2011.
Flight VS17 will mark Arianespace’s fifth mission so far in 2017, following two launches with the heavy-lift Ariane 5, and one each utilizing Soyuz and the light-lift Vega.
Preparing for the next two Ariane 5 flights
Elsewhere at the Spaceport, the next Ariane 5 has moved from the Launcher Integration Building to the Final Assembly Building, where a dual payload of the Viasat-2 and Eutelsat E172B telecommunications satellites will be integrated. This mission is designated Flight VA237, denoting the 237th flight with an Ariane launcher since the family of European-built vehicles began Spaceport operations in 1979.
Activity also has begun for the subsequent Ariane 5 launch, VA238, which will loft the Hellas-Sat 3/Inmarsat S relay satellite and the GSAT-17 telecommunications spacecraft for the Indian Space Research Organisation.
GSAT-17 arrived in French Guiana this week aboard a chartered cargo jetliner that landed at Cayenne’s Félix Eboué Airport. Separately, elements for Flight VA238’s Ariane 5 launch vehicle were delivered to Kourou’s Pariacabo port by the MN Toucan roll-on/roll-off transport ship, completing a trans-Atlantic sea voyage that also carried launcher components for Arianespace’s next Vega mission.
India’s GSAT-17 satellite for Arianespace’s Flight VA238 with Ariane 5 is unloaded from a chartered cargo jetliner at Cayenne’s Félix Eboué Airport (at left), while the Ariane 5 for Flight VA237 is transferred to the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building (center). In the photo at right, the Zefiro 9 third stage for Arianespace’s next Vega launcher is unloaded from the MN Toucan ship at Kourou’s Pariacabo port.
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