Arianespace’s 2008 launch surge continued on Friday night with the dual launch of the VINASAT-1/Star One C2 telecommunication satellites via the Ariane 5 ECA from the European Spaceport in French Guiana. Both spacecraft were successfully separated during the latter stages of the 31 minute flight.
NASASpaceflight.com is covering the launch as a live event, with background, live updates, images and a free launch video – available on the links below (read more).
**FREE Ariane 5 ECA/VINASAT-1 and Star One C2 Launch Video**
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Back in action since lofting the ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle) on its debut mission to the International Space Station (ISS), the Ariane launcher is back into commerical satellite operations, in what is projected to be a seven launch year for Arianespace.
This will be the 34th commercial mission for Ariane 5. Launcher 539, the 34th production phase Ariane 5, is the twelfth of the 30 PA contract launchers, for which ASTRIUM is production prime contractor. 539 is consequently the thirteenth complete launcher to be delivered to Arianespace, integrated and checked out under ASTRIUM responsibility in the Launcher Integration Building (BIL).
The VINASAT-1 telecommunications platform is based on Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems’ A2100A spacecraft bus, and will have a mass at lift-off of around 2,600 kg.
Equipped with 20 C- and Ku-band transponders, VINASAT-1 will provide radio, television and telephone transmission services for all of Vietnam and the Asia Pacific region from its geostationary orbit position of 132 degrees East.
The bird is Vietnam’s first satellite, and will be used to service 200 digital television channels or tens of thousands of telephone channels or the high-speed Internet. It will service on a wide region of Southeast and Northeast Asia for 15-22 years.
VINASAT-1’s relay services will improve the nation’s communication networks infrastructure, removing the dependence on ground networks and allowing all of Vietnam’s rural communities and hamlets to be equipped with telephones and televisions.
The VINASAT spacecraft is the latest A2100-series spacecraft entrusted to Ariane 5. In 2007, Ariane 5 successfully orbited two other satellites of this type: ASTRA 1L in May, and BSAT-3a in August – both of which were carried on the launcher’s trademark dual payload missions.
The other passenger, Star One C2, was built by Thales Alenia Space for Brazil’s Star One telecommunications operator, and carries a payload of 28 C-band transponders, 16 Ku-band transponders, and 1 X-band transponder. It is based on Thales Alenia Space’s Spacebus 3000B3 platform, and will have a lift-off mass of 4,100 kg.
The bird will handle both direct TV broadcasts for South America and international and domestic long-distance telephony for Brazil and Mexico.
Star One C2’s launch follows Arianespace’s successful orbiting of the Star One C1 satellite last November with another dual-payload Ariane 5 mission.
In addition to Star One C2, Thales Alenia Space also has delivered a second payload to French Guiana for launch on a subsequent Ariane 5 mission in 2008. Turksat 3A satellite for Turkey’s Turksat international satellite and cable operator, which will provide telecommunications and direct TV broadcasting services though Turkey, Europe, Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.
VINASAT-1 is the mission’s lower payload, and is installed inside the 6.4-meter tall SYLDA 5 dispenser. Riding above it is Star One C2, which has been encapsulated in Ariane 5’s 17-meter-tall payload fairing.
Arianespace’s two upcoming flights in March and April are the first of seven Ariane 5 missions planned in 2008. Subsequent launches during the year will orbit the Herschel and Planck scientific payloads, as well as TerreStar 1 – the largest geostationary commercial communications satellite ever built.
In parallel, Arianespace’s Starsem affiliate has set April 26 for a Soyuz launch from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome with Giove-B, the second demonstration satellite for Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation constellation.
Re-live the launch updates on the live event pages, linked above.