The Athena-Fidus satellite is readied for Arianespace’s first heavy-lift mission of 2014
The multi-role Athena-Fidus satellite has completed initial checkout at the Spaceport as it is readied for a dual-payload, geostationary transfer orbit launch on Arianespace’s first flight in 2014.
To be lofted January 23 from French Guiana along with the ABS-2 spacecraft aboard a heavy-lift Arianespace Ariane 5, this mission will commence a very busy 2014 – with 12 to 14 launches in preparation.
Following its initial checkout in the Spaceport’s S1A clean room at French Guiana (photo at left), the Athena-Fidus relay satellite is transferred to the S5 payload preparation center for its fueling.
The year-opening mission carrying Athena-Fidus and ABS-2 is designated Flight VA217 in Arianespace’s numbering system, signifying the 217th launch of an Ariane vehicle since the European-developed launcher family began operations on December 24, 1979.
Athena-Fidus was built by program prime contractor Thales Alenia Space on behalf of the French CNES and Italian ASI space agencies, as well as the French DGA and Italian Segredifesa defense ministry organizations. It will provide data transmission services for the French and Italian defense ministries, as well as these countries’ security organizations.
The satellite carries EHF and Ka-band transponders for the defense requirements of the two nations, while also serving such operations as civil and homeland security, law enforcement and firefighting. It derives the Athena-Fidus name from the program reference “Access on theatres for European allied forces nations-French Italian dual use satellite,” and is based on a Spacebus 4000 relay platform. With a liftoff mass of more than 3,000 kg., the spacecraft has an operational design life exceeding 15 years.
Joining Athena-Fidus on the dual-payload Ariane 5 mission is ABS-2 – a C-, Ku- and Ka-band satellite designed to provide global satellite operator ABS with multiple services that include direct-to-home and cable television distribution, VSAT services, data networks, and telecommunications services.
ABS-2 was built by Space Systems/Loral (SSL), and will be one of the most powerful commercial satellites in the Eastern Hemisphere – delivering more than 12 kW of payload power and up to 89 active transponders across 10 different beams. Once positioned at its orbital slot of 75 deg. East longitude, it will bring increased capacity and transmission power to the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, and the Commonwealth of Independent States/Russia.