Final countdown is underway for today’s dual-passenger Arianespace Ariane 5 mission
Arianespace’s Ariane 5 launch with the Amazonas 3 and Azerspace/Africasat-1a telecommunications satellites is on track for an evening liftoff, as fueling of the heavy-lift vehicle has now been authorized following a mid-day review of weather conditions at the Spaceport in French Guiana.
The Ariane 5 with its Azerspace/Africasat-1a and Amazonas 3 satellite passengers is shown in the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch zone. Visible in the foreground is a pipe for the water deluge system that provides acoustic damping during the launcher’s engine ignition and at liftoff.
This will be the year-opening launch for Ariane 5, and is to deliver a total payload lift performance to geostationary transfer orbit of approximately 10,350 kg., which includes an estimated 9,540 kg. for the two spacecraft passengers.
Riding in the upper position of Ariane 5’s payload “stack” is Amazonas 3 – the seventh Spanish satellite to be launched by Arianespace. Built by Space Systems/Loral for the HISPASAT Group, Amazonas 3 will provide telecommunications relay services over the Americas, Europe, and North Africa, delivering direct-to-home television (DTH), corporate fixed and mobile telephone networks and broadband capacity.
Azerspace/Africasat-1a is located in the lower portion of Ariane 5’s payload stack, and it carries 24 C-band transponders and 12 Ku-band transponders to deliver communications coverage for Azerbaijan, Central Asia, Europe and Africa. Produced by Orbital Sciences Corporation under contract to the Republic of Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies for satellite operator Azercosmos, it will be the initial satellite orbited by Arianespace for this nation situated in the Caucasus region.
Today’s launch – designated Flight VA212 to signify the 212th flight of an Ariane family vehicle – is the first of six heavy-lift Ariane 5 missions planned by Arianespace at the Spaceport during 2013. Also scheduled from French Guiana are four medium-lift Soyuz flights and one with the light-lift Vega – providing an active year for Arianespace’s launcher trio.