LIVE: Ariane 5 ECA launches with NSS 12 and THOR 6

by Chris Bergin

Arianespace have launched their six mission of the year via the latest flight of the Ariane 5 ECA launch vehicle. The workhorse is carrying the NSS 12 and THOR-6 telecommunication satellites into orbit from the European Spaceport in in French Guiana. Lift-off was on schedule at the start of a 100 minute launch window that opened at 5:00 p.m. local time, following an issue-free countdown.

Launch Preview:

Flight 192 is the 48th Ariane 5 launch and the sixth in 2009. An Ariane 5 ECA (Cryogenic Evolution type A), the most powerful version in the Ariane 5 range, will be used for this flight.

Flight 192 is a commercial mission for Ariane 5. Launcher 550, the 44th production phase Ariane 5, is the twenty-second of the 30 PA contract launchers, for which ASTRIUM is production prime contractor. 550 is consequently the twenty-third complete launcher to be delivered to Arianespace, integrated and checked out under ASTRIUM responsibility in the Launcher Integration Building (BIL).

In a dual-payload configuration using the SYLDA 5 “A” (6.4m high) system and a long pattern fairing (total height: 17m), the launcher is carrying the European Direct To Home TV satellites NSS 12 in the upper position and THOR 6 in the lower position.

Ariane 5 ECA is to deliver a payload lift performance of 9,515 kg. during the upcoming mission, which includes a combined total of about 8,700 kg. for the NSS-12 and THOR 6 spacecraft, plus the launch vehicle’s dual-passenger dispenser system and satellite integration hardware.

The state-of-the-art NSS-12 will replace NSS-703 at 57 degrees East and cover virtually the entire Eastern Hemisphere, bringing increased capacity and transmission power to a key orbital location at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia.

The spacecraft features 40 C-band transponders and 48 Ku-band transponders with DTH power levels, as well as elaborate beam interconnectivity and C-/Ku-band cross-strapping. NSS-12 is based on SS/L’s space-proven 1300 platform and has been designed to have a minimum expected lifetime of 15 years.

“NSS-12 will be the largest and most powerful satellite in the SES WORLD SKIES fleet and an important spacecraft in our strategy going forward,” noted Rob Bednarek, President and CEO of SES WORLD SKIES.

“The new satellite will allow us to provide seamless continuity and significant incremental capacity at a key orbital location, allowing existing and future customers to introduce new services, expand into new markets and replicate the success of the various video, government and enterprise applications currently transmitted via 57 degrees East.”

NSS-12 will deliver DTH power and performance through four regional Ku-band spot beams over the Middle East and Europe, Central and South Asia and, for the first time, East Africa.

The satellite’s high-capacity, high-power C-band hemispheric beams – one covering Europe, Africa (including Mauritius) and the Middle East, and the other stretching across Asia to Australia – have been augmented by a powerful C-band global beam spanning from the UK to the Far East. The satellite will reach an estimated two-thirds of the world’s population.

“SES currently has three additional spacecraft under construction with Space Systems/Loral, but NSS-12 marks the first SS/L launch for the SES Group,” said Martin Halliwell, President of SES ENGINEERING. “We look forward to another Ariane-5 success as the combined teams of Arianespace, Space Systems/Loral and SES go through the NSS-12 launch count down over the next few weeks.”

Joining NSS-12 is THOR 6, which will strengthen Telenor Satellite Broadcasting’s television broadcast coverage over Central and Eastern Europe, while also providing additional capacity in the Nordic region. It will deliver high-power direct-to-home television services from the 1deg. West orbital position.

Based on Thales Alenia Space’s Spacebus 4000B2 platform, THOR 6 is fitted with 36 Ku-band transponders – 16 of which will serve the Nordic countries, while the 20 other transponders will provide capacity for the growing broadcasting demands within Central and Eastern Europe.

The Ariane 5 mission with NSS-12 and THOR 6 will be the 192nd launch of an Ariane family vehicle. Its flight will follow the October 1 departure of an Ariane 5 that is ready for liftoff with the Amazonas 2 civilian telecommunications satellite for HISPASAT and Germany’s COMSATBw-1 military relay spacecraft for the German Armed Forces.

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