Ariane 5 is moved to the launch zone for this week’s heavy-lift Arianespace mission
Arianespace has delivered another Ariane 5 to the launch zone at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, positioning this workhorse heavy-lift vehicle for liftoff tomorrow with a dual-satellite payload of ABS-2 and Athena-Fidus.
Riding atop its mobile launch table under cloudy skies and light rain, Ariane 5 was transferred to the ELA-3 launch zone from the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building – where payload integration was performed last week. With the rollout now completed, the final countdown will begin for a February 6 liftoff at the start of a 2-hr., 5-min. launch window opening at 5:30 p.m. local time in French Guiana.
For this 72nd flight of an Ariane 5 to date, the payload lift performance is approximately 10,210 kg. – which includes a combined total of some 9,410 kg. for ABS-2 and Athena-Fidus, plus the launch vehicle’s dual-passenger dispenser system and satellite integration hardware.
ABS-2 – which was produced by SSL (Space Systems/Loral) for global satellite operator ABS – is riding in the upper position of Ariane 5’s payload “stack,” to be released first in the flight sequence at 27 minutes following liftoff. It has a total mass of approximately 6,330 kg., and will provide optimized telecommunications, direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting, multimedia, and data transmission services for Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
The Athena-Fidus advanced relay platform has a liftoff mass of over 3,000 kg., and it will be deployed from Ariane 5’s lower passenger position 32 minutes into the flight – completing the mission. Thales Alenia Space built the spacecraft on behalf of the French CNES and Italian ASI space agencies, as well as the French DGA and Italian Segredifesa defense ministry organizations. Athena-Fidus is designed to deliver telecommunications services to both armed forces and homeland security units in France and Italy.