Satellites for Asia and India are orbited on Arianespace’s third Ariane 5 mission of 2011
The 44th consecutive successful Ariane 5 flight has further underscored the flexibility and performance of this workhorse launch system – orbiting a pair of telecommunications spacecraft today to serve one of the world’s most dynamically-developing regions, and maintaining Arianespace’s mission pace in 2011.
Lifting off on time from the Spaceport in French Guiana at 5:38 p.m., the heavy-lift vehicle deployed its Asian/Indian payload of the ST-2 and GSAT-8 satellite passengers during a 31-minute mission that marked Ariane 5’s third launch this year.
“Coming less than one month after the previous launch, this 44th success in a row is particularly remarkable and demonstrates the competence of our operational team, which – launch after launch – confirms that it is the world’s best,” said Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall.
Nine Ariane 5 flights in 12 months
As a confirmation of Ariane 5’s reactivity and accuracy, today’s flight was its ninth mission in 12 calendar months, providing a near-perfect payload delivery. The estimated orbital parameters at the cryogenic upper stage’s injection were:
– Perigee: 249.3 km. for a target of 249.3 km.
– Apogee: 35,941 km. for a target of 35,940 km.
– Inclination: 2.49 deg. for a target of 2.50 deg.
The daytime launch was Arianespace’s second at the service of ST Satellite Ventures, and follows the orbiting of its ST-1 spacecraft in 1998. ST-2 will be utilized by this joint venture of Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) and Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom Company in delivering IP-based fixed and mobile, voice and data transmission satellite services to businesses – especially direct broadcast TV operators and maritime companies in Asia and the Middle East.
ST-2 was built by Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (MELCO), and is configured with Ku- and C-band relay duties. Based on the company’s DS2000 spacecraft bus, the satellite weighed an estimated 5,090 kg. at liftoff, and its manufacture by MELCO represented the first time this Japanese manufacturer has entered the commercial telecommunications satellite market outside of its home country.
The second passenger in Ariane 5’s dual-payload “stack” on today’s launch was GSAT-8, which marked the 14th Indian satellite lofted by Ariane family vehicles during a 30-year timeframe.
GSAT-8 was built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and weighed approximately 3,100 kg. for liftoff. Configured with 24 transponders, this satellite will augment India’s Ku-band relay capabilities – primarily for direct-to-home TV broadcast services, with a coverage zone over the entire Indian subcontinent. Additionally, GSAT-8 carries the two-channel GAGAN system for aircraft navigation assistance over Indian airspace and adjoining areas.
Three more Ariane 5 missions planned in 2011
Today’s 58th flight of an Ariane 5 was the 202nd liftoff of an Ariane vehicle since the European launcher family began operations in 1979.
Following this success, Le Gall confirmed that Arianespace will continue the sustained mission cadence in 2011, with three more Ariane 5 launches and the initial liftoffs of its medium-lift Soyuz and lightweight Vega planned from the Spaceport this year – complemented by continuing Soyuz operations at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The Spaceport’s next Ariane 5 flight is targeted for early July with the ASTRA 1N and BSAT 3C/JCSAT110R spacecraft, to be followed several days later by a Soyuz mission from Baikonur Cosmodrome with six Globalstar satellites.