Mission Update

Mission Update

Ariane 5 delivers the NSS-12 and THOR 6 television broadcast satellites on Arianespace’s sixth mission of 2009

During a rare daytime liftoff, Ariane 5 ascends from the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch zone on its way to deploy another dual-satellite payload.


October 29, 2009

The sixth Ariane 5 flight of 2009 marked another success for this heavy-lift launcher today, carrying the first satellite launched by Arianespace for Telenor Satellite Broadcasting AS – THOR 6, along with the 32nd spacecraft from the SES group of companies entrusted for an Ariane launch – NSS-12.

Ariane 5’s mission with NSS-12 and THOR 6 was performed from the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch site in French Guiana.

Lifting off on time at 5:00 p.m. from the Spaceport in French Guiana, the Ariane 5 deployed the two television broadcast satellites during a mission lasting 31 minutes.  It was the 48th flight of an Ariane 5 and its 34th success in a row.

"This latest success confirms that Ariane 5 is the commercial market’s only operational launcher capable of simultaneously launching two large direct television broadcast satellites,” said Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall.  “It also confirms that Arianespace is the only launch services company capable of orbiting four commercial satellites in four weeks – which I also think is a new record."

Ariane 5’s payload lift performance for the daytime flight was a total of 9,515 kg., which included a combined total of approximately 8,700 kg. for the NSS-12 and THOR 6 spacecraft, plus the launch vehicle’s dual-passenger dispenser system and satellite integration hardware.

The launcher provided another accurate delivery, with the following provisional parameters at the injection of Ariane 5’s cryogenic upper stage:

- Perigee: 250.1 km. for a target of 249.8 km.
- Apogee 35,961 km. for a target of 35,947 km.
- Inclination: 5.98 deg. for a target of 6.00 deg.

This mission with NSS-12 continues Arianespace’s 25-year relationship of uninterrupted cooperation with the SES Group of companies, which was initiated in 1984 with the launch of Spacenet 1 on the inaugural commercial Ariane mission performed by Arianespace.

The NSS-12 satellite was released first during today’s launch, being deployed at 26 minutes into the flight.   With a liftoff weight of approximately 5,620 kg., this spacecraft carries 40 C-band and 48 Ku-band transponders to provide telecommunications and direct-to-home television broadcast services for Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia. 

Today’s flight was the 48th launch of an Ariane 5 and its 34th consecutive success.

It will be operated by SES WORLD SKIES from a geostationary orbit location of 57 deg. East, and is the second satellite launched by Arianespace this year for the SES group – following NSS-9, which was orbited by Ariane 5 in February.

NSS-12 was produced by Space Systems/Loral and is the 35th platform from this U.S.-based satellite manufacturer that Arianespace has launched.

THOR 6 was carried in the lower passenger position of Ariane 5’s payload “stack,” and it separated from the launcher at 31 minutes into the flight.  Built in Europe by Thales Alenia Space, the 3,050-kg. satellite is fitted with 36 Ku-band transponders and will deliver high-power, direct-to-home television services from an orbital location of 1 deg. West. 

When in service for Telenor Satellite Broadcasting, the capacity provided by THOR 6 will respond to the growing broadcast demands within Central and Eastern Europe and also provide additional capacity in the Nordic region.

"Congratulations to Arianespace.  We have worked together now for two years to achieve this launch, and you continue to deliver, time after time," commented Cato Halsaa, the Vice President and CEO of Telenor Satellite Broadcasting.  "As this is your 34th consecutive successful launch, you must be very proud – and we are very proud to be part of your team here."

Today’s launch continues the Ariane 5’s sustained mission pace and keeps the company on track for a total of seven missions planned this year.  With the six flights already performed since February, the workhorse launcher has placed approximately 42,670 kg. in orbit. 

The previous missions of 2009 were performed on October 1 with the Amazonas 2 and COMSATBw-1 satellites; on August 21 with JCSAT-12 and Optus D3; on July 1 with TerreStar-1; on May 14 with Herschel and Planck; and on February 12 with the HOT BIRD™ 10 and NSS-9 satellites, along with two Spirale auxiliary passengers.

Arianespace’s next mission is planned for early December with the Helios 2B French military reconnaissance satellite, marking Ariane 5’s final flight of this year.

"We set the goal of increasing our launch rate, and are on track to meet this challenge," concluded Arianespace Chairman & CEO Le Gall. "Whenever one takes up a challenge, there are doubters. Arianespace will be pleased to win over these doubters by demonstrating that we can deliver, and that we made the right choice."

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