Mission Update

Mission Update

Two Eutelsat satellites are orbited by Arianespace on Ariane 5's 28th consecutive mission success

December 20, 2008

Ariane 5’s mission with HOT BIRD 9 and W2M was the launch vehicle’s sixth flight in 2008.

Arianespace today completed its ninth year of Ariane 5 operations with another successful dual-payload mission of the workhorse commercial vehicle, orbiting two telecommunications satellites for Europe’s Eutelsat telecommunications operator.

The heavy-lift Ariane 5 ECA lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana at 7:35 p.m. local time, and deployed its HOT BIRD™ 9 and W2M passengers during a 32-minute flight.

Payload lift performance for tonight’s launch was approximately 8,340 kg. for the combined weight of the two Eutelsat satellites. 

It brings the total payload mass lofted by Ariane 5’s six missions in 2008 to more than 56,700 kg. – including the 10 civilian and defense telecommunications spacecraft carried to geostationary transfer orbit, as well as the large Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), which was placed in a 260-km. circular orbit to service the International Space Station.

This flight was Ariane 5’s 28th consecutive successful mission, demonstrating that “launcher performance, reliability and availability can go hand-in-hand,” said Jean-Yves Le Gall, Arianespace’s Chairman & CEO, during post-launch comments at the Spaceport.

“Tonight’s success also underscores the quality of the relationship that unites us with Eutelsat, which entrusted us with the simultaneous launch of two of its satellites – and I want to very warmly thank Giuliano Berretta [the CEO of Eutelsat Communications], for his trust,” he added.  “In 2008, we marked the 25th anniversary of our cooperation – with HOT BIRD 9 and W2M being the 22nd and 23rd satellites launched by Arianespace for Eutelsat."

Berretta, who was speaking from Paris, congratulated Arianespace for the double success in support of his company’s telecommunications satellite fleet.  “I hope everyone admired this absolutely beautiful liftoff of Ariane and the separation of our two spacecraft.  I would really like to thank Mr. Le Gall for the great successes of the Ariane launcher.”

A smooth climb-out and on-target deployment sequence

During tonight’s mission, ground tracking cameras followed the Ariane 5’s initial trajectory as the launch was broadcast live on www.arianespace.com.  The good visibility over French Guiana provided a view of Ariane 5’s ascent through scattered clouds, followed by the separation of its two solid boosters – which occurred 2 min. 20 sec. into the flight at an altitude of approximately 64 kilometers.

HOT BIRD 9 was installed in the upper position of Ariane 5’s dual payload “stack,” and it was deployed first during the mission sequence at approximately 27 minutes into the flight.  The spacecraft was produced by EADS Astrium and carries 64 Ku-band transponders for the broadcast of digital and new high-definition TV channels, as well as interactive services.   It will be located at Eutelsat’s premium video neighborhood orbital slot of 13 deg. East, providing a coverage area extending throughout Europe, as well as to North Africa and the Middle East. 

The Ariane 5 mission with Eutelsat’s HOT BIRD 9 and W2M was performed from the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch zone.

The W2M satellite, which was carried in Ariane 5’s lower passenger slot, was built by a European-Indian joint effort involving EADS Astrium and ANTRIX (the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation).  This relay platform was separated from the launcher at just over 32 minutes into the flight.  W2M will be positioned at an orbital slot of 16 deg. East, and is to provide both television and radio broadcasting services for Eutelsat.

Accuracy of the flight was confirmed by the provisional orbital parameters at the injection of Ariane 5’s cryogenic upper stage:

- Perigee: 249.7 km. for a target of 249.8 km.
- Apogee: 35,959 km. for a target of 35,954 km.
- Inclination: 3.99 degrees for a target of 4.00 degrees

This evening’s mission was the 42nd for Ariane 5, which made its first liftoff in 1996.  Arianespace began commercial operations with the launcher on December 10, 1999.

Following the successful launch, Le Gall confirmed that Arianespace is continuing to maintain its leadership by announcing the signature of two additional Service & Solutions orders: one with U.S. manufacturer Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems for the launch of Japan’s BSAT-3c/JCSAT-110R; and the other with EADS Astrium to orbit the SSOT (Sistema Satelital para Observación de la Tierra) Earth observation satellite for the government of Chile.

 “Thanks to the work of each and every member of the Ariane team, Arianespace remained the preferred launch company in 2008,” Le Gall said.  “This year is finishing very well, with our six Ariane 5 missions launching half of all the commercial satellites orbited worldwide in 2008; and Arianespace winning 12 of the total 16 contracts competed this year.” 

Arianespace will continue its sustained launch pace in 2009, with the first flight in the New Year planned for February 12.  This will use another heavy-lift Ariane 5 ECA version, and is to carry Eutelsat’s HOT BIRD™ 10 along with the NSS-9 satellite for SES.  In addition, the upcoming launch will orbit two Spirale auxiliary payloads – which are demonstrators for a space-based defense optical early warning system.

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