Arianespace are back in action today with the dual satellite launch of Intelsat 11 and Optus D2 via their Ariane 5 GS launch vehicle. Launch from Europe’s Spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana.
NASASpaceflight.com is covering the launch as a live event, with extensive background, images, live updates and a free launch video (available now), all provided on the links below (read more).
**FREE Ariane 5 GS Launch Video** – available now – 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.
“This clearly demonstrates the flexibility of our Service & Solutions offer,” Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall said. “Furthermore, tonight’s launch brings to 20 the number of successes in a row for Ariane 5, once again establishing Arianespace as the world reference for this industry.”
This will be the fourth of six Ariane 5 flights planned by Arianespace in 2007, the 34th Ariane 5 launch, and the 178th flight of an Ariane launcher in space flight history. The vehicle will carry a total payload weight of approximately 5,850 kg, which includes 4,830 kg. for the two satellites, plus the associated satellite installation hardware, and the SYLDA 5 deployment system.
The Ariane 5 GS is the latest evolution of the Ariane-5 Generic launcher, produced after the end of the Ariane 5 G+ series. This version integrates more recent elements produced in the frame of the Ariane 5 ECA and Ariane 5 ES ATV developments.
Ariane 5 GS consists of EAP boosters with more propellant in the S1 segments, a composite VEB with the electrical equipments identical to those produced for the Ariane 5 ECA version, and an EPS stage loaded with 300 kg more propellant. The central core stage (EPC) uses the Vulcain 1B engine which delivers a thrust level of 110 tonnes. The first flight of the Ariane 5 GS version took place successfully on 11 August 2005.
The flight plan the launch calls for the dual satellite payload to be deployed in a multi-step process during the 32-minute mission. Separation of Ariane 5’s payload fairing will occur approximately three minutes after lift-off, followed 24 minutes later by Intelsat 11’s deployment. The canister-shaped Sylda 5 dispenser will then be released, exposing Optus D2 for its release approximately 32 minutes into the mission.
Both satellites were manufactured by Orbital Sciences Corporation at its Dulles, Virginia facility, and they are based on the U.S. companyâ€™s STAR spacecraft bus â€“ which has become a popular choice among international telecommunications operators for small-sized geostationary relay platforms.
Optus D2 is to be operated by Australian-based Optus, enabling the development of new business opportunities for the direct-to-home market, new data services and services bundling. This is the second satellite in Optus’ D-series fleet â€“ the first of which was orbited by an Ariane 5 in October 2006.
With a lift-off mass of approximately 2,350 kg., the Optus D2 platform will generate 3.8 kilowatts of payload power to service its 24 active transponders. The satellite is to be positioned at 152 deg. E, and has a mission design lifetime of 15 years.
Optus D2 will be the fourth satellite launched by Arianespace for the Australian operator. It launched Optus D1 in October 2006, following Optus & Defence C1 in June 2003 and Aussat K3 in 1987. SingTel, the parent company of Optus, had already chosen Arianespace to launch its ST-1 satellite in 1998.
Intelsat 11 will weigh approximately 2,500 kg. at lift-off, and carries 34 transponders for direct-to-home broadcasting and data networking services to Latin America. This payload was booked on Ariane 5 in a contract announced last April, and is to be positioned at an orbital slot of 43 deg. West. Intelsat 11 has a 15-year mission design lifetime, and will carry a fuel load sufficient for 16 years of operation.
Since 1983, Arianespace has launched 46 satellites for the international operator Intelsat. Most recently, Arianespace successfully launched Intelsat’s Galaxy 17 satellite on May 2, 2007.
Intelsat 11, which will be riding as the flight’s upper passenger, was placed on the SYLDA 5 payload dispenser system, over which the Ariane 5’s ogive-shaped protective fairing is installed. The other payload – Optus D2 – is installed atop the Ariane 5’s central core stage.
Its C-band payload will serve the continental United States, Mexico and South America and a Ku-band payload will service the DirecTV Latin America downlink coverage area of Brazil. The Ku-band payload also will have uplink capability from the continental United States, Mexico, Europe, and Northwest and Southeast South America.
Full mission background is available on the live event page – linked above.