Ariane 5 ECA launches with ASTRA 1L and Galaxy 17

by Chris Bergin

Arianespace have launched their Ariane 5 ECA launch vehicle, with the dual satellite payload of ASTRA 1L and Galaxy 17. Lift-off was 11:29pm (UK time) from the Kourou Spaceport in French Guiana. Thursday’s first attempt was scrubbed due to high winds.

After just over 30 minutes, both payloads were seperated from the upper stage, concluding their ride on the ninth successful Ariane 5 ECA launch vehicle. A free launch video is available on the link below (read more).

**Ariane 5 – ASTRA IL – Galaxy 17 – Live Updates, Webcast and Launch Coverage**

**Free launch video** – Free to all forum members (registration is free – we do not use your e-mail for spam, only to send you your forum password – which is automated). A full length, high quality (over 130mb) video of the launch is available on L2.


‘This comes less than two months after our previous success, which demonstrates our consistent launch tempo,’ said Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall. ‘We have launched six Ariane 5s and two Soyuz in less than twelve months, establishing Arianespace as the world reference for the launch services industry.

‘Astra 1L is the ninth satellite we have launched for SES Astra and the 26th for the SES family. Just last December, we orbited AMC-18, and now – five months later – it was Astra 1L’s turn. In addition, we will launch AMC-21 next year.

‘More than 60 percent of Intelsat satellites have been launched by Arianespace, and this fall, we will launch two more satellites for Intelsat. I want to thank Intelsat for the confidence it has had in our company from the very beginning.’


The launch is the second of the year for the ever-increasing manifest for Arianespace, following the successful ride to orbit of the Insat 4B communications satellite for India (ISRO) and the Skynet 5A military satellite for the United Kingdom.
‘Ariane 5 underscored its mission capability and operational maturity with tonight’s successful dual-passenger mission, which placed the Skynet 5A and INSAT 4B satellites into geostationary transfer orbit,’ noted the company afterwards. 
‘The March 11 mission was Ariane 5’s 31st liftoff from the Spaceport and the launch vehicle’s 17th consecutive success. Lifting off from the Spaceport in French Guiana, the Ariane 5 deployed Skynet 5A at 26 minutes into the mission, followed four minutes later by INSAT 4B.’
Preparations for tonight’s launch started back in March, with the delivery of another heavy-lift Ariane 5, which arrived in French Guiana aboard the MN Colibri transport ship, which carried launch vehicle elements for Arianespace’s next dual-payload flight.
The ASTRA 1L broadcasting satellite, designed and built by Lockheed Martin SES ASTRA, will be located at orbital location 19.2 degrees East. The spacecraft has a liftoff mass of 4,505 kg.

ASTRA-1L will carry 29 active Ku band transponders used to provide distribution of direct-to-home broadcast services across Europe as well as a 2-transponder Ka band payload for interactive applications. ASTRA 1L is expected to provide 15 years of design life and will ensure further fleet optimization by allowing the release of ASTRA 2C from its current location of 19.2 degrees East. Furthermore, it will reinforce SES ASTRA’s inter satellite back-up concept.

ASTRA 1L is the 15th A2100 series spacecraft designed, built and launched for SES companies by Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin is currently building AMC-14 for SES AMERICOM, which is scheduled to be launched in December 2007. ASTRA 1L also marks the first of five A2100 launches this year.

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 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 4,100-kg. Galaxy 17 spacecraft is to be released from the launch vehicle approximately six minutes later.

Galaxy 17 will weigh an estimated 4,107 kg. at launch and is designed for a 15-year operational life, providing television and telecommunications services for customers of the Intelsat organization. This spacecraft is the 50th geostationary communications satellite based on the Thales Alenia Space Spacebus platform.

Galaxy 17 is fitted with 24 Ku-band and 24 C-band transponders, and will provide television and telephony services in North America for the global operator Intelsat. Based on a Spacebus 3000 B3 platform, it has beginning-of-life electrical power of about 9.5 kW.

Intelsat is the largest provider of fixed satellite services worldwide. It enables providers of media, telecom and government services to deliver information and entertainment to people at home, in the office or on the move.

This is the first launch under the prime contractorship of Thales Alenia Space, which is a major supplier on 15 launches this year. This includes seven communications satellites, three observation satellites, two communications payloads. one scientific payload, eight first-generation Globalstar satellites and three modules for the International Space Station.

This launch is the second of what is targeted to be a launch rate of six missions in 2007, which will be boosted to a stabilized capability of eight heavy-lift flights annually from 2009, which is to provide approximately 16 payload slots per year for Arianespace customers.

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