Mission Update

Mission Update

Pre-launch processing begins with the COMSATBw-1 military communications satellite for Ariane 5's next launch


Members of the COMSATBw-1 spacecraft team oversee this military satellite's processing in the S5C preparation hall at Europe's Spaceport.


September 15, 2009

Arianespace’s ability to accommodate the full range of payloads in its fast-paced launch schedule is demonstrated by preparations for the upcoming Ariane 5 mission – which involve parallel processing of Germany’s COMSATBw-1 military relay satellite and the Amazonas 2 commercial telecom platform for Spain’s HISPASAT.

COMSATBw-1 is in the S5C large preparation hall of the Spaceport’s S5 payload preparation center where it is undergoing pre-launch checkout; while Amazonas 2 has been topped off with its propellant load in the S5B fueling and integration hall. 

The S5 facility – which has three separate clean room zones – enables multiple passengers to be processed in parallel for Arianespace missions, and ensures high security for even the most sensitive of payloads.  Its S5C high bay is the largest of the facility’s preparation halls, providing a 700-sq.-meter work area.  The S5B is a 400-sq.-meter dual-function hall capable of handling both satellite integration and fueling. 

For Ariane 5’s launch late this month, the heavy-lift vehicle’s two passengers will have a combined payload weight of 8,000 kg. 

The 2,500-kg. COMSATBw-1 plays an important role in the German Bundeswehr’s (German Armed Forces) concept for network-centric operations.  This spacecraft is designed to handle secure information for use by units on deployed missions – including voice, fax, data, video and multimedia applications, with a coverage area that stretches from America to eastern Asia.

COMSATBw-1 will serve as the backbone of a strategic command infrastructure and interface for the Bundeswehr’s tactical arms.  Overall industrial responsibility for the secure communication program is with Milsat Services (a 75% Astrium/25% subsidiary of ND SatCom Defence).

The program’s space segment prime contractor is EADS Astrium, which has booked its two spacecraft for Arianespace launches beginning with COMSATBw-1.  Thales Alenia Space is responsible for integrating the Spacebus satellite bus, while Astrium’s German subsidiary TESAT delivers the payloads.

Accompanying COMSATBw-1 on the upcoming Ariane 5 missions is Amazonas 2, which was built by EADS Astrium using the Eurostar E3000 spacecraft bus, and is to weigh approximately 5,500 kg. at liftoff.  When operational with the Spanish-based HISPASAT telecommunications operator, Amazonas 2 will provide relay capacity over the Americas with a coverage area extending from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.  It carries 54 Ku-band transponders and 10 C-band transponders for the relay of a wide range of communications services, including direct-to-home television.

The mission with Amazonas 2 and COMSATBw-1 will be the fifth of seven flights in Arianespace’s busiest launch year for Ariane 5 since its 1999 commercial service introduction.  

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