Dates set for Arianespace’s first three missions of 2014: Year-opening flight is VA217 on February 6
Arianespace has announced the timeframe for its initial three missions this year – covering two Ariane 5 liftoffs and one Soyuz flight – that will kick off the company’s busy 2014 launch manifest.
Athena-Fidus, one of the two passengers for Arianespace’s upcoming Flight VA217, undergoes pre-launch checkout at the Spaceport in French Guiana.
Lofting five payloads in total, these missions will commence this year’s accelerated pace from the Spaceport, as Arianespace targets 12 missions from French Guiana in 2014 based on payload availability, which would surpass the company’s previous yearly-record of 10 launches during 2012.
Designated Flight VA217 in the company’s numbering system, the Ariane 5 mission with the French-Italian Athena-Fidus satellite and ABS-2 spacecraft for global operator ABS will initiate this year’s launch activity, with liftoff now set for February 6 at 5:30 p.m. local time in French Guiana.
The heavy-lift Ariane 5 workhorse will also perform Arianespace’s second mission this year – scheduled for March 7 – which is to loft SES’ Astra 5B and HISPASAT’s Amazonas 4A spacecraft on Flight VA216.
The seventh medium-weight Soyuz flight from the Spaceport – designated Flight VS07 – will round out Arianespace’s first three 2014 missions. It is slated for March 28, and will carry Sentinel 1A for the European Space Agency (ESA).
Arianespace’s complete launcher family will be active from the Spaceport in 2014, with six Ariane 5 liftoffs, four Soyuz flights and two lightweight Vega launches targeted for this year to meet the company’s objective of 12 total missions.