Ariane Flight VA214’s launch vehicle marks a preparation milestone
The third Ariane 5 for launch in 2013 has now completed basic build-up at the Spaceport, taking the next step toward Arianespace’s two-passenger mission planned from French Guiana in July.
This heavy-lift workhorse was equipped with its upper cryogenic stage and vehicle equipment bay inside the Spaceport’s Launcher Integration Building, installed as a single “upper composite” atop the core cryogenic stage by prime contractor Astrium.
The launcher will now be readied for transfer to the Final Assembly Building in French Guiana, where Arianespace will take responsibility for final launch preparations and integration of the satellite payloads – Alphasat and INSAT-3D – before a liftoff targeted for the second half of July.
Built by Astrium, Alphasat will weigh more than six metric tons at launch and provide additional L-band capacity for coverage of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Operated under an agreement between the European Space Agency (ESA) and European commercial satellite operator Inmarsat, it will be the first satellite to use Alphabus, the high-powered European telecommunications platform co-developed by Astrium and Thales Alenia Space under joint contract from ESA and the French CNES space agency.
INSAT-3D is a dedicated meteorological satellite built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), India’s space agency. It will carry weather forecasting payloads, along with a search and rescue relay system, and has a liftoff mass of 2,100 kg., offering 1,100 W of power.
Designated Flight VA214 in Arianespace’s numbering system, this launch represents the 214th flight of an Ariane vehicle since this family’s maiden liftoff in December 1979.
Flight VA214 is one of two Ariane 5 missions currently being prepared in French Guiana – and is part of Spaceport activity for four launch campaigns in May that involves members of Arianespace’s entire launcher family. Pre-flight operations are continuing for Ariane 5’s Flight VA213, which will carry Europe’s fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) into orbit next month; and for Soyuz Flight VS05 which will loft four satellites for O3b Networks – scheduled in June as well. On May 7, Arianespace’s lightweight Vega completed its second mission with the successful launch of three passengers – VNREDSat-1, Proba-V and ESTCube-1.