Arianespace has conducted its sixth Ariane 5 mission of the year with the launch of two more telecommunication satellites. Arabsat-6B and GSAT-15 rode uphill on the European workhorse, with the launch taking place on schedule at 21:34 UTC from the European Spaceport in Kourou on Tuesday.
Ariane 5 Launch:
The Ariane 5 ECA (Cryogenic Evolution type A) – the most powerful version in the Ariane 5 range of rockets – was employed once again for this flight, a vehicle that is an improved version of the generic Ariane 5 launcher.
Those improvements relate mainly to the structure of the Ariane 5, allowing for an increased thrust and ability 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.
With the introduction of Soyuz at the Spaceport in 2011, Arianespace’s family was joined by the lightweight Vega vehicle, following her successful debut in 2012.
Arianespace will also be at the center of a new launch vehicle, the Ariane 6, which has been approved by the ESA members.
This latest mission was designated Flight VA227 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system and was the 227th Ariane mission since this series of vehicles entered operation in 1979.
Launching at the start of a 43-minute launch window, the Ariane 5 mission had a total payload lift performance of 9,810 kg.
This included the two satellites’ mass at liftoff – 5,798 kg. for Arabsat-6B and 3,164 kg. for GSAT-15 – along with launcher integration hardware and Ariane 5’s dual-passenger deployment system, SLYDA.
Arabsat-6B, to be renamed BADR-7 once in orbit, was the ninth satellite orbited by Arianespace for use by the operator Arabsat, based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
It is the initial sixth-generation satellite for Arabsat’s fleet, providing broadcast, broadband and telecommunications services over the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia.
The spacecraft was launched on behalf of Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space as part of their turnkey contract with Arabsat.
Airbus Defence and Space supplied the Eurostar E3000 platform and handled satellite integration, while Thales Alenia Space supplied the telecommunications relay payload.
This satellite rode in the upper passenger position and was deployed first during the mission.
GSAT-15 is designed to deliver telecommunications services, along with dedicated navigation-aid and emergency services, for India. Built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), it will be the 19th payload launched by Arianespace for this customer.
GSAT-15, India’s latest Communication satellite, is a high power satellite being inducted into the INSAT/GSAT system.
GSAT-15 carries a total of 24 communication transponders in Ku-band as well as a GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) payload operating in L1 and L5 bands.
This is the third satellite to carry GAGAN payload after GSAT-8 and GSAT-10, which are already providing navigation services from orbit. GSAT-15 carries a Ku-band beacon as well to help in accurately pointing ground antennas towards the satellite.
The GSAT-15 satellite was deployed from Ariane 5’s lower payload position, concluding the mission.
Arianespace remains on track for a record 12 launches in 2015, using the heavy-lift Ariane 5, medium-lift Soyuz and lightweight Vega. Flight VA227 will be the sixth Ariane 5 mission this year, which was accompanied by two launches each with Soyuz and Vega.
(Images via Arianespace and ISRO).