Ariane and Soyuz to launch two Australian satellites from Guiana Space Center
Australian telecommunications carrier Optus has chosen Arianespace to orbit its D1 and D2 satellites. The satellites will be delivered into orbit by Ariane and Soyuz launchers from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.
Optus D1 will be lofted by an Ariane 5 launcher at the end of 2005, while Optus D2 will be launched by the first Soyuz to lift off from the Guiana Space Center in 2007. Optus will also be the first customer to incorporate an alternate back-up launch vehicle as part of its launch programme.
This contract is a major landmark in Arianespace’s strategy to offer comprehensive launch services solutions, using both Ariane and Soyuz in French Guiana, as well as the Launch Services Alliance that the company has established with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Boeing Launch Services.
Optus’ selection of Arianespace follows two previous successful launches for the carrier. Optus & Defence C1 was launched by Arianespace in June 2003 and Optus’ A3 in 1987. Separately, Optus’ parent company SingTel chose Arianespace to launch its ST-1 satellite in 1998.
The selection of Arianespace by leading satcom operators and manufacturers in Australia, the U.S. and Singapore reflects international recognition of a top-flight launch service.
American satellite manufacturer Orbital Sciences Corporation will integrate the two spacecraft in Dulles, Virginia, using the Star-2 platform. Each satellite will weigh about 2,500 kg at launch. They will be positioned at 160 degrees East and 156 degrees East, respectively. Offering a design life of 15 years, the two Optus satellites will provide direct TV broadcast, Internet connection, telephony and data transmission services for Australia and New Zealand.
Optus D1 and D2 are the 252nd and 253rd contracts signed by Arianespace since its founding in March 1980. Arianespace currently has a backlog of 35 satellites to be launched.