Ariane 5 ends year with dual launch success

by Chris Bergin

The fifth launch of the Ariane 5 took place on Friday evening, launching the AMC-18 and WildBlue-1 communication satellites into GTO (Geostationary Transfer Orbits).

Arianespace CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall praised his team for the five successful Ariane 5 launches this year – once again stating how Arianespace is out-performing their competitors. A free launch video is available on the link below (read more).



(Video section is FREE, but you need to sign up as a member of the forum to enter the video section of the site. We only use your e-mail to send you your password. It will not be used for spam etc.)

The launch comes after four successful Ariane 5 launches from Kourou, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, hot on the heels of the
Ariane 5 ECA triple launch of DirecTV 9S, Optus D1 & LDREX 2 on October 13.

‘This is another successful launch of the Ariane 5,’ said Le Gall. ‘This is the sixteenth successful launch in a row and the ninth and tenth satellites that we have launched this year.
‘I would like to congratulate our customers and we are very proud to participate in this success.’

‘So for Ariane the year is over. It’s finished remarkably because five launches of Ariane – and 10 satellites in orbit – is what we said we would do and this is more than all of our competitors put together.

‘We’ve signed 14 more contracts this year, filling another seven Ariane launches, so we have a number of great evenings ahead of us.’

Satellite backgrounds

SES AMERICOM’s AMC-18 telecommunications satellite landed at Cayenne’s Rochambeau International Airport aboard an Antonov AN-124 cargo jetliner back in November.

AMC-18 has been optimized for next-generation programming services, including high definition channels. AMC-18 will carry twenty four 36 MHz C-band transponders and will provide cable programming and broadcast services to the 50 United States and the Caribbean.

AMC-18 is expected to provide more than 15 years of design life and will expand SES AMERICOM’s fleet of satellites, which provide distribution of cable, broadcast television and radio, telecommunications services, business television and broadband data throughout the Americas and transoceanic regions. AMC-18 is the 13th A2100 series spacecraft designed, built and launched for SES AMERICOM by Lockheed Martin.

Lockheed Martin is currently building AMC-14, which is scheduled to be launched in 2007. AMC-18 also marks the fifth launch of an A2100 this year and the second A2100 by Arianespace of Evry, France.

The Lockheed Martin A2100 geosynchronous spacecraft series is designed to meet a wide variety of telecommunications needs including Ka-band broadband and broadcast services, fixed satellite services in C-band and Ku-band, high-power direct broadcast services using the Ku-band frequency spectrum and mobile satellite services using UHF, L-band, and S-band payloads.

The A2100’s modular design features a reduction in parts, simplified construction, increased on-orbit reliability and reduced weight and cost.

The A2100 spacecraft’s design accommodates a large range of communication payloads as demonstrated by the 30 spacecraft successfully flown to date. This design modularity also enables the A2100 spacecraft to be configured for missions other than communication.

The A2100 design is currently being adapted for medium earth orbit (MEO) navigation missions and geostationary earth orbit (GEO)-based earth observing missions and is currently the baselined platform for Lockheed Martin’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite Series-R (GOES-R) proposal.

The WildBlue-1 satellite will enable WildBlue to expand its satellite broadband connectivity to homes and small businesses in U.S. communities where terrestrial broadband access is either limited or unavailable.

This 4.7-metric ton high-power satellite is based on Space Systems/Loral’s 1300 spacecraft bus, and will provide Ka-band spot beam capacity over the contiguous United States.

‘We knew Space Systems/Loral had the right combination of experience and technology to provide us with an advanced, high-power satellite,’ said David Leonard, chief executive officer of WildBlue Communications, Inc.

‘WildBlue-1 will help the company keep pace with our rapidly increasing customer demand. We are confident of the value and reliability that WildBlue will experience from working with the leader in commercial satellite manufacturing.’

WildBlue-1 is one of the world’s first commercial all Ka-band satellites, which takes advantage of a different portion of the radio spectrum with substantially more capacity than is available in the Ku-band, a more common frequency used for satellite communications.

The technically advanced spacecraft is designed to provide fast and affordable two-way wireless Internet access via satellite directly to homes and small offices in communities throughout the contiguous United States where terrestrial broadband access alternatives are either limited or unavailable.

‘Throughout the WildBlue-1 project, our companies shared a commitment to teamwork and quality,’ said John Celli, president of Space Systems/Loral. WildBlue is a bellwether for the success of broadband services via satellite.

‘The new satellite delivered today demonstrates how an innovative and flexible satellite design, which meets some very unique technical requirements, can continue to broaden the world’s ability to communicate.’

** Job Opportunities** 

Related Articles