Mission Update

Mission Update

Arabsat-5C and SES-2 are orbited on Arianespace's fifth Ariane 5 flight of 2011



Ariane 5 is poised for its sunset liftoff at the Spaceport, marking the 60th mission of this heavy-lift workhorse from French Guiana.


September 21, 2011 – Ariane Flight VA204

Telecommunications satellites for two key Arianespace customers were launched tonight on the company’s fifth Ariane 5 flight of 2011, extending the heavy-lift workhorse’s string of consecutive successes to 46.

Delivering a total payload lift performance of approximately 8,975 kg., the mission lofted Arabsat-5C for the Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat) and SES-2, which will be utilized by Europe’s SES.

Arabsat-5C was deployed first, separating from Ariane 5 at 27 minutes after liftoff, followed eight minutes later by SES-2.


Powered by its Vulcain cryogenic main engine and two solid propellant boosters , Ariane 5 clears the launch tower with the dual-passenger payload of Arabsat-5C and SES-2.

“Arabsat decided several years ago to entrust us with the launch of all its satellites, and the successful orbiting of this eighth satellite demonstrates that my friend, Khalid Balkheyour, Arabsat’s President and CEO, was right to place his confidence in us,” said Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall.  “Because of his wise choice, Arabsat has become one of the world’s leading operators – and I congratulate it for this superb success.”

Once positioned at Arabsat’s 20 deg. East orbital location, Arabsat-5C will deliver capacity in both the C- and Ka-bands for a range of communications services. The spacecraft was manufactured in a joint effort by Europe’s EADS Astrium and Thales Alenia Space.

The SES-2 passenger for tonight’s mission was the 35th SES satellite launched by an Ariane vehicle, and is equipped with 24 C-band and 24 Ku-band transponders.  It will replace SES’ AMC-3 spacecraft at 87 deg. West, providing coverage for North America and the Caribbean.  Also integrated aboard SES-2 is the Commercially Hosted Infrared Payload (CHIRP) sensor for the U.S. Air Force – which integrates a wide-field of view sensor for testing by the military service.

“We are particularly proud of the loyalty that SES has demonstrated since more than 20 years, and I wish to particularly thank Tip Osterthaler, the President and CEO of SES WORLD SKIES U.S. Government Solutions,” Le Gall said.  “I also want to thank our friends at the U.S. Air Force, because together, we have opened a new chapter for the space industry tonight in launching CHIRP on SES-2 as the initial military payload on a civilian satellite.  Arianespace is honored to once again be part of a world’s first!”

For this 60th flight of an Ariane 5, the heavy-lift workhorse provided another on-target performance, with the following estimated orbital parameters at its cryogenic upper stage’s injection:
- Perigee: 249.7 km. for a target of 249.7 km.
- Apogee: 35,957 km. for a target of 35,954 km.
- Inclination: 1.99 deg. for a target of 2.00 deg.

After tonight’s success, Arianespace is to follow with another historic milestone: the maiden liftoff of Soyuz from French Guiana, scheduled for October 20.  The Russian-built medium-lift vehicle will orbit two Galileo spacecraft for Europe’s satellite-based navigation system.

The next Ariane 5 flight is planned for early 2012, performing its third mission to loft a European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) for servicing of the International Space Station.


During Ariane 5's ascent with Arabsat-5C and SES-2, members of the public watch the launch from Kourou, next to the famous Dreyfus Tower (visible at right in this wide-angle photo).


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