Arianespace are back on track with the dual payload launch of their Ariane 5 ECA, carrying Turksat 3A and the British Military satellite, Skynet 5C. The launch from French Guiana was slightly delayed to 6:05pm EDT.
NASASpaceflight.com covered the launch as an interactive live event, with background, images, live updates and a free launch video, available now on the links below (read more).
**FREE Ariane 5 ECA/Turksat and Skynet 5C Launch Video** – available now
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The launch is the 183rd to be carried out by an Ariane launch vehicle, and the 39th Ariane 5 launch in total. The vehicle, carrying a total payload of 8,541 kg, including 7,745 kg for the two satellites, will lift off from the Ariane Launch Complex No. 3 (ELA 3) in Kourou, French Guiana.
The Ariane 5 ECA was originally set to launch on May 30, before a software programming glitch was discovered during final checks during the countdown.
The problem related to the Ariane 5 ECA’s flight software program, which had been modified after the successful March 9 launch of an Ariane 5 ES version – which orbited Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) re-supply spacecraft for the International Space Station.
That mission was followed by another flight on April 18 with an Ariane 5 ECA, which carried a dual-satellite telecommunications payload. The programming glitch, according to Arianespace, is thought to have occurred during software updates made after the ATV flight.
Ariane 5â€™s payload ‘stack’ places Turksat 3A in the lower passenger position, with the satellite being released in the final phase of a multi-step mission trajectory.
Riding as the upper passenger is Skynet 5C, which was installed atop the SYLDA 5 dispenser system, and then encapsulated in the Ariane 5 ECAâ€™s ogive-shaped payload fairing.
Skynet 5C is the third satellite to be launched by Arianespace for UK-based Paradigm – a military satellite telecommunications operator that delivers secure communications to military and government users. Ariane 5 missions in 2007 orbited Skynet 5A in March, followed by Skynet 5B in November.
The Skynet 5 series of spacecraft are built by EADS Astrium, and carry hardened Ultra High and Super High Frequency (UHF/SHF) payloads that operate with multiple, steerable spot beams.
Their relay capability is used by the UK’s armed forces and other government agencies, and also is available to approved international defense, governmental and multinational organizations – including NATO.
Turksat 3A is to be utilized by Ankara-based Turksat, providing telecommunication services and direct TV broadcasting for Turkey, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.
The 3,060 kg satellite is based on Thales Alenia Space’s Spacebus 4000B2 spacecraft design, and carries 24 Ku-band transponders.
Arianespace is targeting seven Ariane 5 flights for 2008 – the busiest year of operations since the launcher’s commercial introduction at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana in 1999.
Its two on-target missions already performed this year were the historic March 9 flight of an Ariane 5 ES version with Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) for the International Space Station, and the April 18 dual-payload Ariane 5 ECA success with Star One C2 and VINASAT-1.
In addition, Arianespace’s Starsem affiliate orbited the European GIOVE-B navigation satellite with its Soyuz commercial launcher, which lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on April 27.
Re-live the launch updates on the live event pages, linked above.