Ariane 5 ECA launches

by Chris Bergin

Arianespace’s Ariane 5 ECA has successfully launched from ESA’s Kourou spaceport in French Guiana – finally lifting off after being delayed by problems with the launch pad – which were resolved, allowing for tonight’s launch of two satellites.

After the rolling out of the Kourou assembly building yesterday morning, officials were confident they will finally go ahead with the launch of the Spaceway 2 and Telkom 2 spacecraft at 23:45 GMT. Lift off occured on time.

The mission’s Boeing-built Spaceway 2 satellite will enable U.S. operator DIRECTV to bring local high-definition programming to most of the American population, as well as expand its standard-definition local offerings.

The Telkom 2 relay platform to be lofted by Ariane 5 is an Orbital Sciences Corporation STAR 2 spacecraft platform, and it will be used by Indonesia’s PT Telkom to expand its satellite communications coverage area into the ASEAN region and the Indian subcontinent.

This launch originally had been set for November 12, but was postponed hours before the scheduled liftoff to resolve minor problems involving the mobile launch table. As a result, the table and its Ariane 5 were moved from the ELA-3 launch zone back into the final assembly building, where the repairs were made.

With a payload capacity of nearly 10,000 kg. on missions to geostationary transfer orbit, Ariane 5 is the only commercial vehicle that can launch two mainstream telecommunications satellite payloads on the same flight.

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