Ready for liftoff: Ariane 5 rolls out to the launch zone for its dual-payload flight
The workhorse Ariane 5 for tomorrow’s evening mission from French Guiana is now poised for liftoff following its rollout to the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch zone.
The heavy-lift vehicle was transferred to the launch pad this morning under sunny skies, emerging at 11:00 a.m. local time from the Final Assembly Building – where the Ariane 5 ECA version had been fitted with a pair of Thales Alenia Space-produced satellite payloads: NILESAT 201 and RASCOM-QAF1R.
Ariane 5 nears completion of its transfer as the heavy-lift vehicle moves into the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch zone.
This step clears the way for final preparations and the countdown to liftoff, which will take place during a launch window that opens at 5:45 p.m. local time in French Guiana on August 4.
Riding as the upper passenger in Ariane 5’s payload “stack” is NILESAT 201, which will be released at just under 29 minutes into the flight. Utilizing a Spacebus 4000B2 platform, this relay platform for Egyptian operator Nilesat features 24 Ku-band and 4 Ka-band transponders, and will weigh approximately 3,200 kg. at launch.
RASCOM-QAF1R – which has a liftoff mass of about 3,050 kg. – will be deployed from Ariane 5’s lower passenger position at approximately 33 minutes into the flight. This spacecraft will ensure service continuity for the RascomStar-QAF operator and its customers, providing African access to advanced communications and information technologies. It is based on the Spacebus 4000B3 platform, and is equipped with 12 Ku-band and 8 C-band transponders.
Tomorrow’s mission is designated 196, signifying the 196th launch of an Ariane family vehicle since 1979.
The August 4 mission also will be Ariane 5’s third flight of 2010, which follows two previous dual-payload launches: the June 26 mission that orbited the Arabsat-5A and COMS spacecraft, and the May 21 launch with ASTRA 3B and COMSATBw-2.