Dual-transfer: Ariane 5s for Arianespace’s next heavy-lift missions are on the move in French Guiana
Arianespace’s flexibility and reactivity in responding to mission changes due to payload availability was underscored with this week’s simultaneous transfer of the 99th and 100th Ariane 5 launchers – which will be utilized on consecutive multi-passenger heavy-lift flights performed from French Guiana in 2018.
During activity at the Spaceport, the no. 99 Ariane 5 – an ES version that will orbit four Galileo FOC (Full Operational Capability) satellites on July 25 – was transferred from the Launcher Integration Building, where its basic build-up was performed, to the Final Assembly Building for payload installation. This upcoming mission is designated Flight VA244 in Arianespace’s numbering system.
The Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building was available due to the parallel rollout of the milestone 100th Ariane 5, which is scheduled for launch in early September carrying the Azerspace-2/Intelsat-38 satellite for Azercosmos and Intelsat, along with another payload to be announced. After moving out of the Final Assembly Building, this ECA version of Ariane 5 had a temporary stopover in the ELA-3 launch zone before heading to the Launcher Integration Building for its own pre-flight preparations.
Designated Flight VA243, the Ariane 5 ECA had been set for a late May liftoff, but its timing was shifted because additional technical checks were required for the mission’s originally-scheduled co-passenger.
Ready for payload integration
The transfer of Flight VA244’s Ariane 5 to the Final Assembly Building is a major step, signaling its readiness for integration of the mission’s four Galileo satellites – which will be released to a circular medium Earth orbit (MEO).
In the Spaceport’s S3 facility, one of the four Galileo FOC satellites for Flight VA244 is installed on the mission’s multi-payload dispenser system.
The processing of these satellites occurred at the Spaceport’s S1 building, was followed by their fueling in the S3B facility – enabling their subsequent installation atop a multi-passenger dispenser system.
As Europe’s own global navigation satellite system, Galileo is operated under civilian control, offering guaranteed high-precision positioning around the world. Its initial services began in December 2016, allowing users equipped with Galileo-enabled devices to combine Galileo and GPS data for better positioning accuracy.
The European GNSS Agency (GSA) is responsible for operating the Galileo satellite navigation systems on behalf of the European Union.
Galileo spacecraft are built by OHB System in Bremen, Germany, and the navigation payloads are provided by Airbus-owned Surrey Satellite Technology in the United Kingdom.