Arianespace are in the conclusion of their successful year, with the dual launch of the RASCOM-QAF1 and HORIZONS 2 satellites via their Ariane 5 GS launch vehicle. Launch was delayed to 9:41pm GMT – following two holds due to launch pad issues.
NASASpaceflight.com covered the launch as a live event, with background, live updates, images and free launch video, available on the links below (read more).
L2 Resources: Ariane 4, Ariane 5, Vega, Soyuz Launch Vehicle Manuals. Pictures of Soyuz launch complex construction at Kourou, plus more.
**FREE Ariane 5 GS RASCOM-QAF1 and HORIZONS 2 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.
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 Ariane 5’s two passengers, RASCOM-QAF1 and Horizons-2, will be released in sequence during the 32-min. flight. RASCOM-QAF1 is the upper satellite in the mission’s payload ‘stack,’ with Horizons-2 installed below it inside the SYLDA multiple payload dispenser.
RASCOM-QAF1 is the first pan-African telecommunications satellite, and it weighs approximately 3,200 kg. for launch. Built by Thales Alenia Space as part of a turnkey contract with RASCOMSTAR-QAF, the satellite is fitted with 12 Ku-band and eight C-band transponders. RASCOM-QAF1 will provide telecommunications, direct TV broadcast and Internet access services during an operating lifetime of 15 years.
The 2,300-kg. Horizons-2 payload was produced by Orbital Sciences, and is to be operated by the Horizons 2 Satellite LLC joint venture of Intelsat and Japan’s JSAT. Its 20 Ku-band transponders will meet the growing demand for telecommunications, HDTV and IP-based content distribution in North America. Horizons-2’s coverage will be provided over the continental United States, the Caribbean and parts of Canada.
Friday’s launch will mark the first time Arianespace has performed six Ariane 5 missions in one year – and it follows the workhorse vehicle’s successful dual-passenger flights in March, May, August, October and November. The 10 telecommunications satellites delivered by Ariane 5s so far in 2007 represent a combined payload mass of more than 37,000 kg.
Arianespace is in the process of accelerating its launch rate to meet customer demand, building to a stabilized pace of eight Ariane 5 missions annually by 2009.
Full mission background is available on the live event page – linked above