Mission Update

Mission Update

Integration is complete for Arianespace's fifth Ariane 5 of 2008

August 7, 2008

Final assembly of the launcher for Arianespace's fifth mission of 2008 is complete following installation of the upper element for Ariane 5's dual-payload "stack." This upper component consists of Japan's Superbird-7 satellite and the SYLDA 5 payload dispenser – both of which are encapsulated in Ariane 5's long payload fairing.

The final integration process for the upcoming Ariane 5 flight is detailed in the photo report from Europe' Spaceport in French Guiana. (Click on the images for a larger version).

Ariane 5's fairing is approximately 17 meters tall in the version used on the upcoming Arianespace mission. In this photo, the fairing is inspected prior to its installation over Superbird-7. The ogive-shaped structure uses two half-fairings that are made of an expanded aluminum honeycomb core and covered by carbon fiber/resin skins.

The upper element of Ariane 5's payload "stack" is shown during its integration. The payload fairing is ready to be lowered over Superbird-7, which already has been installed atop the SYLDA 5 payload dispenser system. Superbird-7 will provide mobile terminal, cable TV and direct TV broadcast services in Japan, along with communications services for the entire Asia-Pacific region.

Ariane 5's upper payload stack element – composed of Superbird-7, the SYLDA 5 payload dispenser and payload fairing – is raised for its integration atop the launch vehicle. Superbird-7 is the first "made in Japan" commercial satellite for a Japanese telecommunications operator. Built by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, it will be operated by the Tokyo-based Space Communications Corporation.

All is ready for the Ariane 5's final integration, which occurs in the upper level of the Spaceport's launcher Final Assembly Building. The mission's lower passenger SES AMERICOM's AMC-21 is shown in position atop the launch vehicle, while the payload stack's upper component is visible in the background as it is readied for installation atop AMC-21. Produced by Thales Alenia Space with Orbital Sciences' STAR-2 satellite bus, this spacecraft will provide comprehensive Ku-band service over the 50 U.S. states, along with high-power coverage for the Gulf of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

A launch team technician in the foreground controls the overhead crane as the upper payload element with Superbird-7 is lowered over the AMC-21 satellite. After final validation, the Ariane 5 will be ready for its roll-out to the Spaceport's ELA-3 launch zone. This mission is one of seven Ariane 5 flights planned by Arianespace in 2008 – the busiest year of launch activity since the heavy-lift vehicle's commercial introduction in 1999.

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