Headlines > News > Arianespace Begins Its 2007 Mission Activity With A Successful Dual-Payload Launch

Arianespace Begins Its 2007 Mission Activity With A Successful Dual-Payload Launch

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Tue Mar 13, 2007 10:18 am
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Arianespace Press Release:

Ariane 5 underscored its mission capability and operational maturity with tonight’s successful dual-passenger mission, which placed the Skynet 5A and INSAT 4B satellites into geostationary transfer orbit.

Lifting off from the Spaceport in French Guiana, the Ariane 5 deployed Skynet 5A at 26 minutes into the mission, followed four minutes later by INSAT 4B.

“With this first launch of the year 2007, Arianespace has once again demonstrated its leadership,” said CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall. “The satisfaction of every customer is our keyword, offering the best possible Service & Solutions to each one.”

The on-target flight was another Ariane 5 heavy-lift mission with two passengers, which is a unique capability among launch vehicles in the commercial marketplace. Skynet 5A weighed in at approximately 4,700 kg. at liftoff, while INSAT 4B had a launch mass of about 3,000 kg.

Skynet 5A is the first in a series of next-generation secure military relay satellites that will serve British armed forces, NATO and allied countries – and it is the fifth launched for the U.K. Ministry of Defence by Arianespace. The EADS Astrium-built Skynet 5A is to be operated by Paradigm Secure Communications, a commercial organization.

Le Gall noted that Ariane vehicles have orbited a total of 26 military payloads to date, ensuring European autonomy in telecommunications, Earth observation/reconnaissance, navigation and intelligence. Two additional Skynet 5-series satellites are part of Arianespace’s backlog for future launches.

INSAT 4B was the 13th satellite launched by Ariane for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in a cooperation that dates back to 1981. The INSAT 4B will be dedicated to television and telecommunications services, carrying 12 Ku-band transponders and 12 C-band transponders for coverage primarily over the Indian sub-continent.

Ariane 5 and Soyuz missions are planned for May:

Tonight’s mission is the first of six Ariane 5 flights planned in 2007 by Arianespace. The company is building up to a stabilized rate of eight Ariane 5 missions annually by 2009.

“As you know, we have – together with our industrial partners – been working very hard to increase our launch regularity and our launch rate, with the target of reaching the eight Ariane 5 launches per year in 2009,” Le Gall said. “Tonight’s launch shows that we are on the right track.”

Le Gall also announced Arianespace’s next Ariane 5 launch from Europe’s Spaceport: a dual-payload flight in early May with Astra 1L for SES Astra and Galaxy 17 for Intelsat.

In addition, Arianespace’s Starsem affiliate has scheduled a launch in May that will use its Soyuz vehicle to carry a cluster of four Globalstar constellation satellites from Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Astrium and ISRO: two highly satisfied customers:

Arianespace’s two customers served by tonight’s Ariane 5 mission expressed their thanks for the accurate in-orbit delivery of their spacecraft.

Astrium CEO François Auque noted his company had a major stake in this launch. In addition producing Skynet 5A and being the satellite’s operator (via the Astrium Services subsidiary, Paradigm Secure Communications), Astrium also is the industrial prime contractor for Ariane 5.

“You don’t change when you have a winning team,” Auque said in comments at Europe Spaceport’s Jupiter control room following the successful mission. “When you have a launch as important as one tonight, it represents a major ‘bet’ – and when you are with Ariane, it is a very logical ‘bet’ to have.”

G Madhavan Nair, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, congratulated the Ariane team for delivering INSAT 4B into an excellent orbit.

The Ariane 5’s accuracy was confirmed by India’s master control facility at Hassan in Karnataka, with telemetry received from the spacecraft immediately after its separation from the launch vehicle. Subsequent commands issued by the control center ordered INSAT 4B to take its Earth-viewing orientation, and the calibration of on-board gyros also was carried out.

“Ariane’s precise launch has once again proved that it can do the job, giving an orbit with textbook precision,” Nair added. “My heartiest congratulations to you.”

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