Arianespace has conducted its second Ariane 5 launch of the year with the lofting of the Eutelsat 65 West A relay satellite. Following a rare single passenger launch to kick off 2016, the Ariane 5 was again tasked with launching one large bird as opposed to the usual dual passenger mission. Lift-off occurred at 05:20 UTC from the European Spaceport in Kourou on Wednesday.
Ariane 5 Launch:
Ariane 5’s usually launch with two satellites, utilizing the SYLDA that dispenses the upper passenger, before itself departing the stack to reveal the satellite in the lower position. The mission concludes when the lower passenger is released.
Ariane 5 is designed to place payloads weighing up to 9.6 tonnes into GTO, which is designed to allow the Ariane 5 ECA to handle dual launches of very large satellites. However, for the opening launch of 2016, Intelsat 29e was the only payload to be lofted on January 27.
That was the situation again on Wednesday with the Ariane 5 launched with just the Eutelsat 65 West A relay satellite.
The mission had a lift performance estimated at 6,764 kg. – which included the 6,615 kg. mass of the satellite.
This latest mission was designated Flight VA229 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system and was the 229th Ariane mission since this series of vehicles entered operation in 1979.
The L582 launcher was the twenty-ninth to be delivered by Airbus Defence and Space to Arianespace as part of the PB production batch.
The PB production contract was signed in March 2009 to guarantee continuity of the launch service after completion of the PA batch comprising 30 launchers. The PB production batch comprises 35 A5ECA launchers and covers the period from 2010 to 2016.
That contract was extended by an order for a further 18 ECA launchers, scheduled for launch as of 2019. Arianespace plan to make the Ariane 6 the workhorse of the 2020s.
After satellite separation, the Upper Stage’s propellant temperature and levels were recorded to study it behaviour in the tanks under microgravity. This information will help to design the Upper Stage for the future Ariane 6 rocket.
L582 was consequently the fifty-ninth complete launcher to be delivered to Arianespace, integrated and checked out under Airbus Defence and Space responsibility in the Launcher Integration Building (BIL).
The stages completed their trans-Atlantic sea voyage aboard the MN Colibri – one of two roll-on/roll-off transport ships that support Arianespace’s supply chain.
The satellite arrived at the Kourou launch site on February 6 for processing.
Built by Space Systems Loral (SSL) in the United States, the 6.5 ton satellite is a tri-band satellite designed for Latin American markets, utilizing the C, Ku and Ka bands – providing video distribution and direct-to-home broadcasting, along with flexible high throughput for broadband access, from an orbital position of 65 deg. West.
It will boost capability in the region ahead of the world’s second biggest sporting event, the Olympic Games. However, capacity had already been greatly increased after Brazil hosted the biggest sporting event in 2014 – the football World Cup.
Eutelsat 65 West A was the 31st satellite to be launched by Arianespace for the Paris, France-based Eutelsat.
“Arianespace has just launched its 525th satellite,” said Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël. “We are both pleased and proud of having performed this launch for Eutelsat, the European operator who has been our partner since we both started operations in the early 1980s, with French Higher Education and Research Minister Thierry Mandon seeing the launch in person. I would like to thank Eutelsat for its ongoing confidence.
“I am also delighted to see Ariane 5 continue its extraordinary career with its 71st successful launch in a row. I would like to thank the teams in charge of Ariane 5 production under the leadership of industrial prime, Airbus Safran Launchers.
“I would also like to thank ESA, as Ariane program authority, our partner CNES-CSG and the personnel at the launch base, who provide continued support for our ongoing success, and of course all Arianespace staff, who are fully committed to setting another new operational record in 2016.”
In carrying out the year’s second Ariane 5 by early March, Arianespace is continuing to aim for eight Ariane 5 launches in 2016. Arianespace has scheduled five dual launches plus an Ariane 5 ES launch for the Galileo satellite navigation system that will carry four satellites.
The European Commission decided to accelerate the deployment of the Galileo constellation by adding a Soyuz launch this spring, given the confirmed availability of satellites built by OHB.
(Images via Arianespace).