Arianespace wraps up 2007 with its sixth dual-satellite Ariane 5 success of the year
December 21, 2007
Arianespace today performed its sixth successful Ariane 5 mission of 2007, orbiting another dual-satellite payload and reinforcing its position as the world's leading commercial launch services company.
Lifting off from Europe's Spaceport, the Ariane 5 GS vehicle deployed its RASCOM-QAF1 and Horizons-2 satellites during a 32-minute-long flight. With this latest success, Arianespace has launched 80 percent of the satellites placed in geostationary transfer orbit during 2007 - a new industry record.
"This mission underscores the reactivity of Arianespace, as contracts for the satellites orbited tonight were signed only a few months ago - since both were initially entrusted to other launch services companies," explained Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall. "We were able to launch this evening because of our mastering of the Ariane 5's production process, and the dedication of the teams operating here in French Guiana."
Le Gall noted that in addition to the 12 telecommunications satellites launched in 2007 by Arianespace, the company's Starsem affiliate also was busy this year: orbiting eight constellation spacecraft, along with a commercial radar imaging satellite. "This was a truly remarkable performance," he added.
For tonight's flight, RASCOM-QAF1 was deployed first, being released by Ariane 5 at 28 minutes into the mission. RASCOM-QAF1 is the first pan-African telecommunications satellite, and was manufactured by Thales Alenia Space as part of a turnkey contract with RASCOMSTAR-QAF. The 3,200-kg. satellite's 12 Ku-band and eight C-band transponders will provide telecommunications, direct TV broadcast and Internet access services during an operating lifetime of 15 years.
Speaking after the successful launch, Le Gall noted that RASCOM-QAF1 was the third Thales Alenia Space-built satellite launched by Arianespace in 2007. "Arianespace has orbited nearly two-thirds of Thales Alenia Space's satellites, which is a sign of the close working relationship between our two companies," he added.
Horizons-2 was deployed by Ariane 5 approximately 32 minutes after the liftoff of tonight's mission. This 2,300-kg. satellite was produced by U.S.-based Orbital Sciences Corporation, and is to be operated by the Horizons 2 Satellite LLC joint venture of Intelsat and Japan's JSAT. Equipped with 20 Ku-band transponders. Horizons-2 will meet the growing demand for telecommunications, HDTV and IP-based content distribution in North America. Its broadcast footprint covers the continental United States, the Caribbean and parts of Canada.
"For Horizons-2, this evening's mission also sets new records: it is the 48th payload that we have orbited for Intelsat, the seventh for JSAT and the 13th Orbital Sciences Corporation satellite that Arianespace has launched," Le Gall said. "To the managers of these companies, thank you for your continued confidence in us."
Arianespace ends 2007 in a position of industry strength, holding a record backlog of orders that consists of 24 satellites for launch to geostationary orbit with Ariane 5 (and possibly Soyuz for the smaller payloads); 11 institutional launches with Ariane 5 (including nine Automated Transfer Vehicle re-supply spacecraft for the International Space Station); and eight Soyuz launches (two from Baikonur Cosmodrome via Starsem, and six from the Guiana Space Center).
Concluding his post-launch comments – which were carried live on the mission's videobroadcast – Le Gall promised that Arianespace will continue supporting the needs of its worldwide clients, offering a capable launcher family of the heavyweight Ariane 5, medium-lift Soyuz and lightweight Vega vehicles.
“For all of our customers who are watching us from Europe, Africa, America and the Asia/Pacific region, you can count on Arianespace,” Le Gall said. “Our one and only goal is to offer the best Service and Solutions, with on-time launches that are successful. We have demonstrated this in 2007, we will continue in 2008. After that, we will reach the pace of seven to eight Ariane 5 launches annually, along with two to four Soyuz flights and two missions with Vega per year.”