The Spaceport keeps pace with Arianespace’s busy mission cadence
The Spaceport in French Guiana this week is demonstrating its ability to support multiple Arianespace campaigns in parallel, enabling the company to maintain a sustained flight cadence for commercial and institutional customers.
Arianespace’s completion of a heavy-lift Ariane 5 flight yesterday was marked by a nighttime liftoff from this equatorial launch site, while preparations continued at the Spaceport for three additional missions.
Designated Flight VA220 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system, last evening’s mission carried a pair of telecommunications spacecraft to geostationary transfer orbit for Latin America: global operator Intelsat’s Intelsat 30, which hosts the DLA-1 payload for DIRECTV; and ARSAT-1 for new regional operator ARSAT (Empresa Argentina de Soluciones Satelitales Sociedad Anonima).
Arianespace’s ninth launch from French Guiana in 2014
Flight VA220 marked the ninth Arianespace launch from French Guiana in 2014, involving five Ariane 5 flights, three missions with Soyuz and one Vega liftoff – a pace that keeps the company on track to meet its 2014 target of 12 total missions (based on the availability of payloads for these launches).
In advanced preparation at the Spaceport is Arianespace’s next launch, set for November 18 using the company’s lightweight Vega vehicle to loft the European Space Agency’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) spaceplane. The Italian-built Vega launcher’s three solid propellant stages and its liquid bi-propellant upper stage have been integrated at the SLV launch site during the vehicle’s build-up, while the IXV payload for this launch – designated VV04 – is being readied in the S1B clean room facility.
The next Ariane 5 heavy-lift mission is set for December
Pre-launch activities also are moving forward for Arianespace’s subsequent heavy-lift mission with Ariane 5, designated Flight VA221, which is to orbit the DIRECTV-14 and GSAT-16 satellites from French Guiana in early December. Initial assembly of the vehicle was completed this week inside the Spaceport’s Launcher Integration Building for Ariane 5. DIRECTV, which already has arrived in French Guiana and currently is undergoing its processing, will be launched for operator DIRECTV; while GSAT-16 is to be orbited at the service of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
As Arianespace continued building toward the company’s record total of 12 missions in 2014, launcher elements for the initial Ariane 5 flight of 2015 were delivered this week to French Guiana aboard the MN Toucan – one of two sea-going vessels performing transportation rotations between Europe and South America. It marked an initial step for this mission, Flight VA222, to launch two spacecraft: Telenor Satellite Broadcasting’s THOR 7 and SICRAL 2, which will be orbited in the framework of a turnkey contract that the Italian Defense Ministry and the French DGA armament agency (Direction Générale de l’Armement) have with Thales Alenia Space Italy.
In this photo series, Ariane 5 launcher elements to be used for Arianespace Flight VA222 are being unloaded from the MN Toucan sea-going vessel – which transported these components from their European production sites to French Guiana.