Arianespace have launched another two satellites into orbit – namely 25B/Es’hail-1 and GSAT-7 – via their Ariane 5 ECA rocket on Thursday. Launch from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana was on schedule at the opening of its 50 minute window at 20:30 UTC.
Ariane 5 ECA Launch:
The Ariane 5 ECA (Cryogenic Evolution type A) – the most powerful version in the Ariane 5 range – will be used for this flight. The Ariane 5 ECA is an improved Ariane 5 Generic launcher.
Although it has the same general architecture, a number of major changes were made to the basic structure of the Ariane 5 Generic version to increase thrust and enable it to carry heavier payloads into orbit.
Designed to place payloads weighing up to 9.6 tonnes into GTO, this increased capacity allows the Ariane 5 ECA to handle dual launches of very large satellites.
Given Arianespace now enjoys a full family of launch vehicles – following the introduction of the Soyuz and Vega rockets at the Spaceport – the company adopted a new numbering system to identify its missions with these three vehicles.
As such, Ariane 5 flights carry the “VA” designation, followed by the flight number. The “V” stands for “vol”, the French word for “flight”, while the “A” represents the use of an Ariane launch vehicle.
With the introduction of Soyuz at the Spaceport in 2011, Arianespace missions from South America with the medium-lift workhorse launcher are being designated “VS”, while flights with the lightweight Vega vehicle are referenced as “VV”, following its successful debut in 2012.
This mission was designated Flight VA215 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system and will be the 215th launch since operations began with the Ariane series of vehicles in 1979, as well as the 71st flight for the heavy-lift Ariane 5 version.
The Ariane 5 delivered an estimated total lift performance of 9,790 kg. – including EUTELSAT 25B/Es’hail 1 and GSAT-7, along with hardware for the launcher’s dual-payload deployment system.
The Space Systems/Loral (SSL)-built EUTELSAT 25B/Es’hail 1 rode in the upper position of Ariane 5’s payload “stack,” and was deployed first during the 34-minute flight sequence.
Once in orbit, the spacecraft will be used by European telecommunications operator Eutelsat Communications and Qatar’s Es’hailSat Satellite Company to deliver Ku-band television broadcasting, telecommunications and government services for the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.
The satellite is built on the 1300 satellite bus, and will provide a follow-on to the EUTELSAT 25C satellite, which currently is operated at 25.5 degrees East.
The bird sports four steerable spot beam antennas and four deployable reflectors, along with advanced command and telemetry capabilities, and is designed for a service life of 15 years or more.
Released second as the mission’s lower passenger, India’s GSAT-7 was developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to provide the country with UHF, S-band, C-band and Ku-band relay capacity over the India land mass.
The GSAT-7 spacecraft’s mass at liftoff was estimated at 2,550 kg., and its power handling capability is rated at approximately 3,000 Watts.
The satellite is adapted from India’s I-2K spacecraft bus, which also was used for the INSAT-3D satellite – lofted by Arianespace’s most recent Ariane 5 mission, performed on July 25.
GSAT-7 was the 17th ISRO spacecraft lofted by an Ariane-series vehicle, continuing a relationship that extends to the 1981 mission with the Apple experimental satellite. Arianespace also has launched two other satellites designed by India, for the operators Eutelsat and Avanti Communications.
Thursday’s launch was the fourth heavy-lift Ariane 5 mission in 2013, and follows the on-target Flight VA214, which orbited Alphasat, the largest telecommunications platform ever built by Europe, along with India’s INSAT-3D meteorological platform – which uses the same basic spacecraft bus as GSAT-7.
In addition to the three Ariane 5 liftoffs performed so far this year by Arianespace at the Spaceport, the company’s other launch vehicles also have been active.
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Its medium-lift Soyuz and lightweight Vega performed one launch each from French Guiana, while Arianespace’s Starsem affiliate conducted a Soyuz mission from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
As a result, the combined flights of these three Arianespace family launchers have orbited a total of 18 payloads to date in 2013.
(Images via Arianespace and ISRO).