Following the interruption of a “social movement” that effectively shut down the Arianespace base of launch operations, the company launched its third mission in the space of less than a month. Liftoff of the Ariane 5 – carrying ViaSat-2 and Eutelsat 172B – took place at the opening of a one hour window, with the launch marked 23:45 UTC at the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana.
Ariane 5 Launch:
The spaceport is now back to full pace, with the aim of catching up on the delays caused by a CSG-centric strike was led by the ENDEL workers, protesting in relation to the yearly collective accord negotiations. These were joined by the transporters’ union UGTR, protesting against their foreseen reduced role in the spaceport with Ariane 6.
The first launch that took place since the stand down of the industrial action was the Ariane 5 launch with SGDC and Koreasat-7 on May 4, quickly followed by the Arianespace Soyuz ST-A launch with SES-15 on May 17.
With this latest launch, Arianespace has picked up on some of the enforced delays by launching three missions in less than a one month period.
This third launch was another dual passenger mission, marking the sixth launch of the year. Arianespace orbited two satellites: ViaSat-2 for ViaSat Inc.; and EUTELSAT 172B for Eutelsat.
Another highlight for this mission – the 237th overall by an Ariane launcher – was the new all-time Arianespace record for a total payload weight orbited. The total mass was 10,865 kg., including a net mass at liftoff of 9,969 kg. for the two satellites.
ViaSat-2 and EUTELSAT 172B were the 558th and 559th satellites to be launched by Arianespace. In total, it marked the 289th mission by the Arianespace family of launchers (Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega).
ViaSat-2 was the first ViaSat satellite to be launched by Arianespace.
ViaSat Inc., a new customer for Arianespace and its Ariane 5 launch vehicle, provides international communities with broadband internet connectivity, accessible on land, at sea and in the air, at competitive rates in relation to other satellite or terrestrial services.
The ViaSat-2 satellite system – built by Boeing in El Segundo, California, using a 702HP platform – should bring considerable improvements in terms of speed, lower costs and extended broadband coverage within its footprint, as well as along the main aeronautical and maritime routes linking North America and Europe (Atlantic Ocean).
ViaSat-2 will also provide nearly twice the capacity offered by previous generations of ViaSat satellites, along with seven times as much coverage. This capability comes from its suite of Ka-band transponders.
Positioned at 70 degrees West, ViaSat-2 will provide throughput of approximately 300 Gbps in Ka-band over its coverage zone, which includes North and Central America, plus the Caribbean, northern South America, and aeronautical and maritime routes in the Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe.
It is expected to serve on orbit for at least 14 years.
EUTELSAT 172B marks a long-term relationship between the customer and the launch provider. In total it was the 32nd satellite launched by Arianespace for Eutelsat. Both companies have worked together since 1983, when Arianespace launched the Eutelsat-1 F1 satellite. Including this upcoming launch, more than half of Eutelsat’s satellites will have been orbited by Arianespace.
EUTELSAT 172B will – via its Ku and C -band transponders – deliver increased capacity for fast-growing applications that include in-flight and maritime connectivity, cellular backhaul, corporate networks, video distribution and government services. It will be located at 172 degrees East, a key neighborhood providing exceptional Asia-Pacific reach over land and sea, from Alaska to Australia.
This spacecraft is the first all-electric telecommunications satellite built in Europe. This key enabling technology has been implemented by Airbus in Toulouse, using the new all-electric Eurostar E3000 EOR (Electric Orbit Raising) platform.
The satellite has an expected service life of over 15 years.
ViaSat-2 and EUTELSAT 172B were deployed into geostationary transfer orbit on a mission that lasted just under 42 minutes.
ViaSat-2 was released first, 29 minutes into the mission, followed by EUTELSAT 172B, which began its life on its own in space at T+42 minutes.
Flight VA237 maintains Arianespace’s busy launch schedule in 2017, during which the company is targeting a total of 12 flights using its heavy-lift Ariane 5, medium-lift Soyuz and lightweight Vega vehicles.
(Images via Arianespace).