Ariane 5 has returned to launch action for the third time this year with the lofting of the Echostar 18 and BRISAT satellites on Saturday. BRIsat is the first satellite dedicated to serving a bank. The launch – from the European Spaceport in Kourou – was realigned to Saturday, following a scrub on Friday due to high altitude wind constraints.
Ariane 5 Launch:
The launch was set to take place on June 8. However, during the preparations for the roll-out of the Ariane 5 ECA launcher, an anomaly occurred with a fluid connector between the cryogenic upper stage and the launch table.
As a result, Arianespace has decided to postpone the Flight VA230 launch, in order to replace this component and perform the subsequent verifications.
With June 16 the realigned target, Arianespace delayed the launch a further 24 hours due to an anomaly with an umbilical connection to the upper portion of the launcher.
Those issues were resolved, allowing for rollout of the vehicle to its pad ahead of the June 17 launch.
However, Friday’s attempt was scrubbed due to high altitude wind constraints. The next attempt will take place at 20:30 UTC on Saturday. That was further delayed to the end of the window due to an unspecified issue with the launch pad.
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.
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 VA230 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system and was the 230th Ariane mission since this series of vehicles entered operation in 1979.
The launch marked a new all-time Arianespace record for a total payload weight orbited: 10,730 kg., including a net weight of 9,840 kg. for the two satellites
EchoStar XVIII – based on the 1300 satellite bus produced by SSL – is the mission’s upper passenger, and it is to be orbited for operator DISH Network L.L.C.
The spacecraft features a high-power multi-spot beam in the Ku-band to assure an ongoing service to DISH customers in the contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Cuba.
Echostar 18 will be operated U.S.-based EchoStar Satellite Services, a provider of video distribution, data communications and backhaul services for media and broadcast organizations, direct-to-home providers, enterprise customers and government service providers.
Joining EchoStar XVIII on Arianespace’s next mission is BRIsat – a milestone payload for P.T. Bank Rakyat Indonesia (Persero) Tbk. (BRI).
BRIsat is the world’s first communications satellite dedicated to a financial institution. It will provide both C-band and Ku-band coverage of Indonesia and South East Asia.
Positioned at 150.5 degrees East longitude, the satellite will enable BRI to provide enhanced secure banking communications for more than 10,600 operational branches, 236,939 electronic channel outlets, and almost 53 million customers across the Indonesian archipelago.
“It has been an honor to work with bank BRI to build a satellite that will help improve lives in Indonesia by expanding the availability of banking services,” said John Celli, president of SSL. “We are pleased that the satellite arrived at launch base on schedule and look forward to its successful launch.”
BRIsat is based on the SSL 1300 satellite platform, which has the flexibility to support a broad range of applications and technology advances. The satellite is designed to provide service for 15 years or longer.
“SSL has been a professional and reliable partner in the design and manufacturing of our satellite,” said BRI CEO Asmawi Syam Syamsuddin.
“The satellite was delivered on schedule in just 24 months and when launched it will help us better serve the people of Indonesia.”
SSL is also providing BRI with a complete ground system solution, which includes two satellite control facilities, as well as training, and launch support services.
More than 50 SSL-built spacecraft have been launched by Arianespace to date.
This launch was Arianespace’s fifth liftoff in 2016, with the overall goal of performing up to 12 flights this year using the heavy-lift Ariane 5, medium-lift Soyuz and lightweight Vega launchers.
(Images via Arianespace and SSL).