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Another Ariane 5 success, with a new record performance to geostationary transfer orbit
May 4, 2007
Ariane 5 delivered a record performance during Arianespace's second heavy-lift flight of 2007, deploying two large telecommunications satellites into highly accurate geostationary transfer orbit today.
Launched from the ELA-3 complex at Europe's Spaceport, the Ariane 5 orbited ASTRA 1L for SES ASTRA and Galaxy 17 for Intelsat – marking the 18th consecutive success for Arianespace's workhorse launch vehicle.
"This comes less than two months after our previous success, which clearly demonstrates our consistent launch tempo," said Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall. "We have launched six Ariane 5s and two Soyuz in less than twelve months, establishing Arianespace as the world reference for the launch services industry."
The customers for today's mission are key international satellite communications companies, and both are long-time users of Arianespace launch services.
The 26th SES satellite launched by Ariane, and the 45th for Intelsat
"ASTRA 1L is the ninth satellite we have launched for SES ASTRA and the 26th for the SES family," Le Gall added in post-launch comments from the Spaceport's Jupiter mission center. "Just last December, we orbited AMC-18, and now – five months later – it was ASTRA 1L's turn. In addition, we will launch AMC-21 next year."
The ASTRA 1L platform is equipped with 29 Ku-band and 2 Ka-band transponders, and will deliver broadcast services to continental Europe from an orbital slot of 19.2° East. This 4,500-kg. communications platform also is to extend ASTRA's coverage from the Canary Islands in the West to the Russian border in the East, and it will further strengthen SES ASTRA's unique in-orbit back-up scheme.
Intelsat is a loyal Arianespace customer as well, and the 4,100-kg. Galaxy 17 spacecraft orbited today become the organization's 45th satellite to use an Ariane launcher since 1983. Fitted with 24 Ku-band and 24 C-band transponders, Galaxy 17 is designed to provide television and telephony services for North America.
"About 60 percent of Intelsat satellites have been launched by Arianespace, and this fall, we will launch two more satellites for Intelsat," Le Gall added. "I want to thank Intelsat for the confidence it has had in our company from the very beginning."
Today's flight lofted a total mass estimated at just over 9,400 kg. – a record for a mission to standard geostationary transfer orbit. This included the weight of the two satellite payloads, their integration hardware, as well as Ariane 5's multiple deployment system that enables the launcher to perform its efficient dual-spacecraft launches.
The mission originally had been scheduled for May 3, but was delayed 24 hours by high-altitude winds over French Guiana, which exceeded the established safety margins. The weather cooperated for tonight's launch – even providing a break in the rainy conditions at French Guiana, allowing the launcher's initial ascent to be viewed, including separation of the Ariane 5's two solid boosters approximately 2 min. 20 sec. into the flight.
A symbolic mission for international space cooperation
In his post-launch comments, Le Gall also acknowledged the symbolic importance of today's mission for international space activity – as the European-built Ariane 5 carried both European and American satellite payloads. He said this illustrates the common objectives of Europe and the United States in space, and noted the cooperation will be extended in the future with Ariane 5's launch of the European ATV re-supply spacecraft to the International Space Station.
"I am very pleased and honored to welcome tonight a U.S. delegation led by my personal friend, Mike Griffin, the NASA Administrator," Le Gall said. "This delegation is visiting our facility in preparation for the historic ATV launch."
Le Gall also announced Arianespace's upcoming missions. The first will be in the next few weeks, when Arianespace affiliate Starsem launches a Soyuz vehicle from Baikonur Cosmodrome with the Globalstar 1R payload. This will be followed in August by another heavy-lift Ariane 5 mission from Europe's Spaceport, which is to carry the SPACEWAY 3 and B-SAT 3A satellites.
- See the press release on this latest launch success.