Ariane 5 maintains Arianespace’s track record of success with the launch of ASTRA 2F and GSAT-10
The fifth Ariane 5 mission of 2012 delivered a pair of telecommunications spacecraft to geostationary transfer orbit today, marking the 65th launch to date for Arianespace’s heavy-lift workhorse.
Lifting off in late afternoon sunlight at 6:18 p.m. from the Spaceport in French Guiana, Ariane 5 deployed its ASTRA 2F and GSAT-10 satellite passengers during a flight lasting 30 minutes.
This timing just prior to sunset provided a clear view of Ariane 5’s initial trajectory as it cleared a low cloud deck and continued the ascent, enabling tracking cameras to view the solid propellant booster’s separation at an altitude of 67.5 km., as well as the payload fairing’s jettison at nearly 110 km. above French Guiana.
Ariane 5’s climb-out from the Spaceport is traced by its plume, which is twisted by upper-level winds. At the plume’s top, Ariane 5 is visible just after the jettison of its two solid propellant boosters.
The launcher’s total payload lift performance was more than 10,200 kg. – which included a combined mass of some 9,400 kg. for the two spacecraft, along with Ariane 5’s multi-payload dispenser system and associated integration hardware.
Highlighting the continuing on-target accuracy of Ariane 5, the vehicle’s estimated orbital parameters at injection of its cryogenic upper stage were:
– Perigee: 249.7 km. for a target of 249.7 km.
– Apogee: 35,938 km. for a target of 35,933 km.
– Inclination: 6.00 deg. for a target of 6.00 deg.
Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall said that tonight’s mission marked the 51st consecutive success for Ariane 5, “demonstrating Arianespace’s unrelenting efforts to insure reliability for its customers that is unequaled in the launch services industry.”
Le Gall noted tonight’s flight represents a highpoint during Arianespace’s particularly successful month of September, in which the company announced new launch contracts at the World Satellite Business Week event in Paris, and its Starsem affiliate lofted the European Metop-B weather satellite from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome.
ASTRA 2F was deployed first during the flight sequence, with its separation from Ariane 5 occurring 27 minutes after liftoff. It is the 36th satellite entrusted to Arianespace by the SES group, continuing a successful relationship that originated with the 1988 launch of ASTRA 1A using an Ariane 4 vehicle.
With an estimated liftoff mass of 6,000 kg., ASTRA 2F utilizes Astrium’s Eurostar E3000 satellite bus and carries Ku- and Ka-band payloads for the delivery of high performance Direct-to-Home (DTH) and next-generation broadband services in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
It will be operated by Luxembourg-based SES from an orbital location of 28.2 deg. East – which is one of the operator’s prime positions that serves such premium broadcasters as BSkyB, the BBC, ITV and Channel 5. From this geostationary slot, SES delivers programming to almost 13 million satellite homes and over three million cable homes, as well as 700,000 Internet Protocol television (IPTV) homes in the U.K. and Ireland. Additionally, 28.2 degrees East is used by SES to broadcast numerous channels for the growing DTH platforms in sub-Saharan Africa.
“ASTRA 2F was the 36th satellite launched by our company for SES, and as with all of the others, it enables SES to reinforce its no. 1 position in direct broadcasting by satellite,” Le Gall said in a post-mission speech at the Spaceport. “This new success results from a particularly intense relationship with SES over the long term, and is in the framework of a multi-launchagreement that allows even more flexibility and bring a tailored response to the needs of our customer.”
GSAT-10 was the second satellite orbited during Arianespace’s mission tonight from the Spaceport on its way to an orbital position of 83 deg. East – where it is to be operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). With this latest success, Arianespace has now lofted 15 spacecraft for ISRO, which designed, assembled and integrated GSAT-10 in Bangalore, India.
Based on the I-3K satellite bus, GSAT-10 weighed approximately 3,400 kg. at liftoff and carries 30 transponders as well as the GAGAN (GPS and GEO augmented navigation) system. It will provide Ku- and C-band relay capacity when it joins the Indian National Satellite (INSAT) system of geostationary spacecraft.
Le Gall explained that ISRO is a highly loyal customer, as the collaboration with this Indian space agency began more than 30 years ago with its Apple satellite’s orbiting on the third flight of an Ariane vehicle – an Ariane 1 version that was launched in June 1981.
Arianespace’s previous Ariane 5 missions during 2012 lofted Europe’s third Automated Transfer Vehicle for servicing of the International Space Station on March 23; the JCSAT-13 and VINASAT-2 telecommunications spacecraft on May 15; a mixed telecommunications/meteorological satellite payload of EchoStar XVII and MSG-3 on July 5; and the Intelsat 20 and HYLAS 2 relay platforms on August 2.
The next Arianespace flight is now set for October 12, using the Soyuz member of its launcher family on a mission from the Spaceport to loft two European Galileo navigation satellites.