Another Arianespace launch success and a new commercial record for Ariane 5
October 1, 2009
Arianespace achieved another commercial milestone with today’s Ariane 5 launch, which was the vehicle’s 33rd consecutive success and its fifth flight in 2009 – bringing total payloads orbited by the company this year to seven telecommunications satellites, two deep space telescopes and two piggyback spacecraft.
This latest mission carried the Amazonas 2 civilian relay platform for Spain’s HISPASAT and the German COMSATBw-1 secure military communications satellite, demonstrating the capability of Arianespace to match up diverse spacecraft on Ariane 5’s trademark dual-passenger launches.
“Since the beginning of the year, we’ve launched seven commercial satellites, along with the Herschel and Planck astronomy spacecraft – which once again is a world record,” said Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall.
He added that the company’s continued commercial launch services leadership position is due to several factors, including the capabilities of Ariane’s industrial team, the support of governments in the launcher program’s European countries, and the confidence of its growing customer base. “Our achievements exist because Ariane exists, and success after success, Arianespace is able to demonstrate that it is the Service & Solutions launch company of reference,” he stated.
Today’s flight orbited a combined payload mass of more than 7,900 kg. for the Amazonas 2 and COMSATBw-1 passengers, bringing Ariane 5’s total lift performance in 2009 to approximately 34,000 kg.
In another on-time departure for Arianespace, the vehicle lifted off at 6:59 p.m. (local time in French Guiana), which was the opening of a 1 hr., 11 min. launch window. Ariane 5 climbed through clear skies over the Spaceport, enabling a view of its initial trajectory – including the burn-out and separation of the two solid rocket boosters, which were jettisoned at an altitude of 67 km.
This mission also reinforced Ariane 5’s highly accurate delivery capabilities for its payloads, providing an on-target injection with the following provisional parameters:
- Perigee: 249.7 km. for a target of 249.7 km.
- Apogee 35,959 km. for a target of 35,949 km.
- Inclination: 3.00 deg. for a target of 3.00 deg.
A fast-paced flight to deploy the mission’s two payloads
Amazonas 2 rode as the upper passenger in the launch vehicle’s payload “stack,” and was deployed 27 minutes into the mission by Ariane 5. This satellite will be operated by Spanish telecommunications operator HISPASAT, for which Arianespace has provided repeat launch services since its orbiting of the Hispasat 1A telecom relay platform in 1992.
The Amazonas 2 spacecraft was produced by EADS Astrium, and is the 66th satellite from this manufacturer orbited by Arianespace. With a mass at liftoff of approximately 5,500 kg., Amazonas 2 will provide a wide range of telecommunications services over its coverage area extending from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. It is to be operated from an orbital slot of 61 deg. West for relay services with 54 Ku-band transponders and 10 C-band transponders. Based on EADS Astrium’s Eurostar E3000 spacecraft bus, the satellite has a design lifetime of 15 years, with an end-of-life power of 15.3 kW.
COMSATBw-1 was Ariane 5’s lower payload on today’s launch, and it was released at just over 33 minutes into the flight – becoming the 32nd military spacecraft lofted by Arianespace. The satellite weighed approximately 2,500 kg., and will be positioned at an orbital location of 63 deg. East.
It will serve as a key element in the German Bundeswehr’s (German Armed Forces) concept for network-centric operations, providing the backbone of a strategic command infrastructure and interface for the Bundeswehr’s tactical arms, handling secure information – including voice, fax, data, video and multimedia applications – for use by units on deployed missions. COMSATBw-1 is equipped with 4 SHF-band transponders and 5 UHF-band transponders, with a coverage area extending from America to eastern Asia.
Astrium is prime contractor for the German SatComBw military telecommunications system’s space segment, which will comprise two COMSATBw satellites to be launched by Arianespace. Integration of these relay spacecraft is the responsibility of Thales Alenia Space, with the satellites based on the Spacebus platform. Their payloads are provided by Astrium subsidiary TESAT.
Ariane 5’s launch today marked the 191st mission of an Ariane vehicle since the launcher family began operations in 1979.
Preparations for Arianespace’s next launch are well advanced, with the basic build-up of this flight’s Ariane 5 completed in the Spaceport’s Launcher Integration Building. It is ready for a transfer to the Final Assembly Building, where the heavy-lift vehicle will be equipped with a dual payload of the NSS-12 and THOR 6 commercial telecommunications satellites. This mission is planned for the end of October.
Both NSS-12 and THOR 6 have been delivered to the Spaceport, where they now are undergoing the pre-launch verification process.
Arianespace remains on track to perform a total of seven Ariane 5 flights in 2009, which will make this the busiest year of launch activity since the workhorse vehicle’s commercial introduction in 1999.