Satellite duo arrive in Kourou ahead of September Ariane 5 launch

by Chris Bergin

Two spacecraft have completed their journeys to their Kourou launch site ahead of launching together on a September Ariane 5 mission. The BSAT-4a satellite has joined Intelsat 37e for their final processing flow ahead of meeting up atop the Arianespace rocket for a dual launch in early September.

Ariane 5 Launch Preps:

Arianespace is targeting a total of 12 missions in 2017 utilizing its family of the heavy-lift Ariane 5, medium-lift Soyuz and lightweight lifter Vega.

Ariane 5 continues to be the company’s workhorse, usually launching two spacecraft at a time to Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).

Ariane 5’s previous mission involved the lofting of Inmarsat S EAN/HellasSat 3 and GSAT-17, while the company’s most recent mission involved its Vega rocket with the launch of the VENµS and OPTSAT 3000 satellites.

Preparations for the next mission received a highlight in its pre-launch flow with the arrival of the two passengers set to ride uphill on the Ariane 5 rocket, a launch vehicle that is already deep into integration processing.

The most recent arrival was confirmed on Monday when the BSAT-4a satellite, designed and built for Broadcasting Satellite System Corporation (B-SAT), arrived at the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

The satellite – which was designed and built by Space Systems Loral (SSL) – will be used for Direct-to-Home (DTH) television service in Japan.

“The completion and delivery of this high-performance satellite to launch base demonstrates the success of our streamlined operations,” said Paul Estey, executive vice president and chief operating officer of SSL.

“We are honored that B-SAT put its trust in SSL for this next-generation satellite, and look forward to our teams working together with Arianespace to prepare the satellite for launch.”

BSAT-4a sports 24 Ku-band transponders and will expand the availability of advanced television services such as high definition and 4K/8K ultra-high definition.

Based on the SSL 1300 platform, the satellite is designed to provide service for 15 years or longer, adding to B-SAT’s three other satellites, BSAT-3a, BSAT-3b and BSAT-3c, although they are currently providing a 2K broadcasting service.

B-SAT has started 4K/8K test broadcasting from the BSAT-3 series and will provide new service, 4K/8K regular broadcasting service by BSAT-4a starting in December 2018.

“BSAT-4a is the first satellite we have purchased from SSL and we have been pleased with the support that we received from their skilled and experienced team,” added Takashi Yabashi, president and chief executive officer of B-SAT.

“SSL has proven its reputation as an agile and reliable partner during the production of our satellite and we are happy with its on-time delivery to launch base. Now we look forward to providing the expanded Ultra HD programming and high-quality direct-to-home service that this satellite enables.”

The other passenger for this dual launch is Intelsat 37e. This satellite was spotted leaving George Bush Intercontenteial Airport in Houston on an Antonov An-124 by Astro95 Media’s Nathan Moeller on August 1.

It was a confirmed arrival at Kourou the following day when Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël tweeted a welcome message to the satellite.

This satellite was built by Boeing (Hughes) and is based on the BSS-702MP platform. It will be powered by two solar wings, each with three panels of ultra triple-junction gallium arsenide solar cells.

With a service life of 15 years, the satellite will use C-band, Ku-band and a steerable Ka-band capacity that will allow it to replace the Intelsat 901 spacecraft currently operating in the 18 degrees E location that Intelsat 37e will set up shop.

The launch follows hot on the heels of the previous Intelsat launch, which involved the lofting of the Intelsat 35e by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket last month from Kennedy Space Center’s 39A.

The next satellites in this family will be launches in 2018, with Intelsat 39, followed by Intelsat 38 and Horizons 3e.

(Images via Arianespace, SSL and Nathan Moeller)

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