Ariane 5 ECA launches with HOT BIRD 10 and NSS-9 satellites

by Chris Bergin

Arianespace’s Ariane 5 ECA launch vehicle has lifted off from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana, carrying the HOT BIRD 10 and NSS-9 telecommunications satellites. Launch occurred at 22:09 UTC. Arianespace is targeting six to eight Ariane 5 missions in 2009.

The launch marks the 42nd launch of the commercial launcher, and is the first launch on 2009, following six flights performed by Arianespace in 2008.

The heavy-lift performance for this launch was 8,511 kg., which includes 7,420 kg. for the satellites, along with the associated integration hardware and SYLDA dispenser system.

HOT BIRD 10 will be utilized by the Paris-based Eutelsat telecommunications operator, and is to be located at the company’s 13 deg. East orbital location for video broadcast services.

The spacecraft is based on EADS Astrium’s Eurostar 3000 spacecraft bus design, and is identical to the HOT BIRD 9 relay platform successfully orbited by Arianespace’s year-ending 2008 mission with Ariane 5 on December 20.

HOT BIRD 9 had a lift-off weight of 4,880 kg. and will handle cable and satellite broadcasting duties at Eutelsat’s orbital slot of 13 deg. East – where HOT BIRD 10 also is to be located.

For the upcoming Ariane 5 mission, HOT BIRD 10 will be joined by SES NEWSKIES’ NSS-9 telecommunications satellite.

Manufactured by Orbital Sciences Corporation using its Star 2 satellite bus, NSS-9 will have a lift-off mass of 2,230 kg.

It is designed for a minimum service life of 15 years – providing relay services for a wide range of SES NEW SKIES customers that includes broadcasters, government users, carriers across the Pacific islands and the maritime industry.

This spacecraft carries 44 active C-band transponders, and features three beams that can interconnect on a transponder-by-transponder basis: a global beam providing full coverage of the Earth visible from 183 degrees East; a West hemi-beam for coverage over Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, China, Korea and the Pacific Islands; and an East hemi-beam with coverage and connectivity to the U.S., Hawaii and Polynesia.

Joining NSS-9 and HOT BIRD 10 are two 120-kg.-class Spirale microsatellites. They are demonstrators for a French space-based optical early warning program that will become part of an anti-ballistic missile defense system, and also contribute to other operational missions such as proliferation monitoring.

The two Spirale spacecraft were installed on a ring-shaped support structure installed at the base of Ariane 5’s payload stack, and were built by Alcatel Space for Spirale program prime contractor EADS Astrium.

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