Press Release

Press Release

Ariane 5 ECA orbits Skynet 5D and Mexsat Bicentenario satellites: 10 years of success, 10 tons of performance, 10 launches in 2012

Kourou, December 19, 2012

On Wednesday, December 19, 2012, Arianespace successfully carried out the 53rd Ariane 5 launch in a row, orbiting two payloads: the Skynet 5D military communications satellite for Astrium Services, on behalf of the British Ministry of Defence, and the Mexsat Bicentenario telecommunications satellite for the Mexican Secretariat of Communications and Transport.

10 years of success

Today's successful mission, the 53rd in a row for the European launcher in ten years, once again proves the reliability and availability of the Ariane 5 launch system.

This successful mission, the seventh for Ariane 5 in 2012 also perfectly illustrates the strategic importance of Ariane, which guarantees independent access to space for Europe. Arianespace continues to confirm its position as the world’s benchmark launch system for all telecommunications operators, whether civil or military.

10 tons of performance

Today, Ariane 5 with its 10 tons of performance is the only commercial satellite launcher now on the market capable of simultaneously launching two payloads and handling a complete range of missions, from launches of commercial satellites into geostationary orbit, to launches of dedicated scientific spacecraft into special orbits.

10 launches in 2012

With seven Ariane 5 missions, two by Soyuz and the inaugural flight of the Vega light launcher in 2012, all from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, Arianespace reaffirms its position as the company offering the widest range of launch opportunities.

In 2012 these three launchers orbited a total of 17 satellites for 15 different customers, with a cumulated payload weight exceeding 75,000 kg.

The company's Euro-Russian subsidiary, Starsem, also carried out a Soyuz launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. 

A launch for civil and military telecommunications

Skynet 5D is the 38th military payload to be orbited by an Ariane launcher. Arianespace has already launched seven Skynet satellites for the British Ministry of Defence.

Mexsat Bicentenario is the fifth Mexican satellite to be launched by Ariane, following Satmex 3, 4, 5 and 6 (previously known as the Morelos and Solidaridad satellites).

Skynet 5D/Mexsat Bicentenario mission at a glance

The mission was carried out by an Ariane 5 ECA launcher from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Liftoff was on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 6:49 pm local time in Kourou (3:49 pm in Mexico City, 4:49 pm in Washington, D.C., 21:49 UT and 10:49 pm in Paris).

Skynet 5D was launched on behalf of Astrium Services, which will provide secure telecommunications services to the British Ministry of Defence, NATO and other countries which already use the Skynet family of military communications satellites. Built by Astrium Satellites, Skynet 5D weighed about 4,800 kg at launch. It is based on the Eurostar E3000 platform, and will offer a design life of approximately 15 years from its orbital position at 53 degrees East. Skynet 5D is the 89th Astrium satellite to be launched by Arianespace.

Built by Orbital Sciences Corporation in Dulles, Virginia, Mexsat Bicentenario is based on a GEOStar-3 platform. It weighed about 3,000 kg at liftoff, and will be positioned in geostationary orbit at 114.9 degrees West. Equipped with eight C-band and eight Ku-band transponders, it will provide telecommunications services across Mexico. Mexsat Bicentenario is the 23rd satellite built by Orbital Sciences Corporation to be launched by Arianespace.

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