Intelsat “doubles down” with Arianespace for an Ariane 5 dual success
Two telecommunications relay satellites were orbited today for Intelsat on an Ariane 5, extending Arianespace’s 30-plus-year partnership with this U.S. operator while continuing the workhorse launcher’s track record of success and setting a new payload-lift record.
During a 41-minute mission from the Spaceport in French Guiana, Ariane 5 deployed Intelsat 33e and Intelsat 36 into geostationary transfer orbit, making them the 57th and 58th Intelsat payloads lofted by Arianespace for the satellite service provider since 1983.
With this evening’s launch – designated Flight VA232 – Intelsat retains its position as Arianespace’s no. 1 customer on missions to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), with the launch services provider having lofted 50 percent of all Intelsat satellites in operation today.
Profound confidence in Arianespace
“Intelsat entrusted two satellites to Arianespace on a single mission; this betokens a profound confidence in the reliability and flexibility of the Ariane 5 launcher,” explained Arianespace Chairman and CEO Stéphane Israël.
Israël added the partnership will continue next year with Arianespace’s launch of two more satellites – Intelsat 32e and Intelsat 37e.
Ken Lee, Intelsat’s Senior Vice President of Space Systems, congratulates members of the Arianespace launch team on today’s Ariane 5 dual mission success.
After confirmation of the two satellites’ separation on Flight VA232, Ken Lee, Intelsat’s Senior Vice President of Space Systems, thanked Arianespace for the mission.
“Ariane has the reputation of delivering, and today it delivered not one, but two of our satellites successfully into orbit,” Lee commented from the Spaceport’s Jupiter control center. “We truly appreciate our partnership, and the fact that we have marked another flawless mission together!”
This mission also highlighted continuous improvement in the launcher’s payload lift performance, with 10,735 kg. delivered today to geostationary transfer orbit – topping the record of 10,730 kg., set during the most recent Ariane 5 flight, performed in June.
Ariane 5’s first mission with Airbus Safran Launchers fully operational
In another milestone, the vehicle utilized this evening – no. 87 in the series of heavy-lift launchers – was the first since Ariane 5 prime contractor, and Arianespace main shareholder, Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL) became fully operational on July 1, assuming its full scope of activity.
“I would like to thank Airbus Safran Launchers and all the European industry for contributing more than ever to Arianespace successes,” Israël said.
The Arianespace Chairman and CEO also recognized this latest achievement’s contributions from the European Space Agency (responsible for development of the Ariane, Soyuz and Vega launcher programs), as well as France’s CNES space agency (the qualification authority for Ariane 5 and operating partner at the Spaceport).
“And of course, bravo to my Arianespace colleagues for the outstanding success – the sixth of this year!” Israël added.
A “red-white-and-blue” Flight VA232
Flight VA232 had a strong U.S. angle, as Arianespace’s customer and the manufacturers of both satellites are American.
Intelsat operates its globalized network from headquarters in McLean, Virginia; Intelsat 33e was produced by Boeing in El Segundo, California; while Intelsat 36 also was manufactured in California by SSL (Space Systems Loral) at Palo Alto.
“With this flight, Arianespace has launched a total of 87 satellites for U.S. operators and 177 satellites manufactured in the U.S. since 1980,” Israël explained. “It is appropriate that we are celebrating our 30th anniversary of the Arianespace Washington, D.C. office this year.”
Meeting broadband demand and serving Intelsat’s media neighborhoods
Intelsat 33e was the first payload deployed during today’s Ariane 5 mission, on its way to an orbital slot of 60 deg. East – from which the spacecraft’s Ku- and C-band coverage will meet broadband demand for carrier-grade telecom services, enterprise networks, aeronautical connectivity and media services once fully operational. Its coverage area includes Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region.
Flight VA232 was U.S.-centric, with the customer (Intelsat) and manufacturers of both satellite payloads (Boeing and SSL) all based in the United States.
Built by Boeing using a 702MP spacecraft platform, Intelsat 33e is the second satellite in Intelsat’s next-generation high-throughput Intelsat EpicNG series – joining Intelsat 29e, which was launched by Arianespace aboard another Ariane 5 in January.
The Intelsat 36 co-passenger – which is based on SSL’s 1300 platform – was released next, completing Flight VA232. Designed to enhance Intelsat’s media neighborhoods serving the South African and Indian Ocean region, the satellite will operate from a 68.5 deg. East orbital position – co-located with Intelsat 20, which was launched by Arianespace in 2012.
Ariane 5’s delivery of its Intelsat 33e and Intelsat 36 payloads on Flight VA232 was performed with the following estimated parameters at orbital injection:
– Perigee: 248.7 km. for a target of 249.0 km.
– Apogee: 35,858 km. for a target of 35,879 km.
– Inclination: 5.98 deg. for a target of 6.00 deg.
The half-way mark in Arianespace’s 2016 launch schedule
As Arianespace’s sixth of 11 flights planned during the year using its launcher family – which consists of the heavy-lift Ariane 5, medium-lift Soyuz and lightweight Vega – today’s success brings the company to the half-way point in its 2016 mission activity.
It follows Ariane 5 missions performed on January 27 (carrying Intelsat 29e as a dedicated single payload), March 9 (EUTELSAT 65 West A) and June 18 (EchoStar XVIII and BRIsat); plus Soyuz missions on April 25 (with Sentinel-1B as the primary passenger) and May 24 (two Galileo constellation satellites).
Arianespace’s next Spaceport mission is a Vega flight scheduled for September 15, carrying the PerúSAT-1 Earth observation satellite at the service of Airbus Defence and Space (on behalf of the Peruvian government), and four Earth imaging satellites for Terra Bella.