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Launch campaigns for Arianespace’s two upcoming Ariane 5 flights reach new milestones
September 17, 2009
The parallel launch campaigns for Arianespace’s next two Ariane 5 missions are continuing apace as payload processing for the fifth Ariane 5 flight of 2009 marked a new milestone, and the sixth launcher completed its basic build-up during activity at the Spaceport in French Guiana.
For Ariane 5’s upcoming mission – planned for the end of this month – the Amazonas 2 payload has now made its first contact with launcher hardware. This step occurred today in the Spaceport’s S5 payload preparation facility as Amazonas 2 was installed on the cone-shaped adapter that serves as its interface with Ariane 5.
Amazonas 2 was built by EADS Astrium using the Eurostar E3000 spacecraft bus and will weigh approximately 5,500 kg. at liftoff. It is to be operated by the Spanish HISPASAT telecommunications operator, and will provide relay capacity over the Americas with a coverage area extending from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Amazonas 2 carries 54 Ku-band transponders and 10 C-band transponders for a wide range of communications services, including direct-to-home television.
The Madrid-based HISPASAT was established in 1989 with the goal of becoming the leading satellite operator in the Spanish and Portuguese language markets. Arianespace has supported HISPASAT’s development of its satellite fleet – providing launch services to orbit three spacecraft: Hispasat 1B in 1993, XTAR-EUR in 2005 and Spainsat in 2006.
Joining Amazonas 2 on Ariane 5’s late-September mission will be the German COMSATBw-1 military telecommunications satellite, which also is undergoing its pre-launch processing in the Spaceport’s S5 facility. With a liftoff weight of 2,500 kg., COMSATBw-1 will play an important role in the German Bundeswehr’s (German Armed Forces) concept for network-centric operations. This spacecraft is conceived for the relay of secure information for use by units on deployed missions – including voice, fax, data, video and multimedia applications. Its coverage area stretches from America to eastern Asia.
As payload preparations continue for Arianespace’s fifth Ariane 5 flight of 2009, the sixth launch vehicle for this year has completed its basic build-up in the Spaceport’s Launcher Integration Building. It was “topped off” with the ESC-A cryogenic upper stage and vehicle equipment bay – which were installed as a single unit. The combined integration step is part of a streamlined process for Ariane 5’s build-up, which optimizes the preparation workflow and enables Arianespace to maintain the rapid-paced mission with its workhorse vehicle.
Following additional integration and checkout, this launcher will be ready for transfer to the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building, which will open up once the fifth Ariane 5 of 2009 rolls out to the launch zone with its Amazonas 2 and COMSATBw-1 satellite payloads.
Arianespace has scheduled a total of seven Ariane 5 flights in 2009, making it the busiest year of launch activity since the workhorse vehicle entered commercial service in 1999. The four Ariane 5 flights performed so far in 2009 orbited a combined payload mass of more than 26,000 kg.