The first Ariane 5 flight of 2013 is “go” for its February 7 liftoff
Arianespace’s year-opening Ariane 5 mission has been given the “go” for liftoff on Thursday, February 7 following today’s launch readiness review for this dual-passenger, heavy-lift flight from the Spaceport in French Guiana.
The readiness review – which is held prior to all Arianespace missions – validated the status of Ariane 5, its Amazonas 3 and Azerspace/Africasat-1a spacecraft, along with the Spaceport’s infrastructure and the system of downrange tracking stations.
During final preparations for Arianespace’s Flight VA212, the Azerbaijan flag is placed on Ariane 5’s payload fairing, representing the mission’s Azerspace/Africasat-1a satellite passenger. Above it is the logo for the Amazonas 3 payload.
Total lift performance for the Ariane 5 will be an estimated 10,350 kg., composed of approximately 9,540 kg. for the two satellite passengers, along with integration hardware for the dual-payload “stack” and its deployment system.
Riding in the payload stack’s upper position is Amazonas 3, which was built by Space Systems/Loral in Palo Alto, California for the HISPASAT Group, and will operate from a 61º West longitude orbital slot. Based on the SSL 1300 platform, this 6,265-kg.-class satellite will provide telecommunications relay services that include direct-to-home television (DTH), corporate fixed and mobile telephone networks, and broadband capacity with coverage across the Americas, Europe, and North Africa. It is equipped with 33 Ku-band and 19 C-band transponders, along with 9 Ka-band spot beams.
Installed in the lower position of Ariane 5’s stack is the Azerspace/Africasat-1a satellite, weighing approximately 3,275 kg. at liftoff. Using Orbital Sciences Corporation’s STAR-2 platform, it carries 36 active C- and Ku-band transponders to provide communications coverage for Azerbaijan, Central Asia, Europe and Africa from an orbital location of 46 deg. East longitude. The satellite was produced by Orbital under contract to the Republic of Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies for the country’s national satellite operator, Azercosmos.
Thursday evening’s launch is designated Flight VA212, signifying the 212th flight of an Ariane family vehicle. It will be the first of six heavy-lift Ariane 5 missions planned by Arianespace at the Spaceport in 2013 for its launcher family trio, along with four medium-lift Soyuz flights and one with the light-lift Vega from this French Guiana site.