Headlines > News > Ariane 5 maintains its industry leadership with the successful launch of Superbird-7 and AMC-21

Ariane 5 maintains its industry leadership with the successful launch of Superbird-7 and AMC-21

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Fri Aug 15, 2008 1:56 am
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(Arianespace) – Arianespace confirmed its ability to provide high-quality, on-target Ariane 5 missions at an accelerated rate with today’s successful launch that placed the Superbird-7 and AMC-21 telecommunications satellites into accurate geostationary transfer orbits.

This was the 9th mission performed by Ariane 5s in a 12-month period, during which the workhorse vehicles carried 16 civilian and military telecommunications satellites along with the first Automated Transfer Vehicle for the International Space Station – lofting a combined total payload weight of 75,430 kg.

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Ariane 5 makes an on-time liftoff from Europe’s Spaceport ELA-3 launch zone as it begins the successful mission to orbit Superbird-7 and AMC-21. This wide-angle view also shows a portion of the assembly and integration area for Ariane 5, which is partly visible in the foreground at right.

Today’s flight also marked the Ariane 5’s 27th consecutive successful launch, and was the fifth of seven missions planned by Arianespace in 2008.

Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall said the flight “perfectly illustrates that high performance, reliability and the increase in launch rate can go hand-in-hand. It also demonstrates the recognition of our Service & Solutions offer by the largest satellite operators and manufacturers.”

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The dual-payload capability of Ariane 5 was demonstrated once again by today’s successful mission.

The heavy-lift Ariane 5 ECA’s on-time liftoff occurred at 5:44 p.m. local time in French Guiana, providing a daytime view of the vehicle’s trajectory as it headed downrange from the Spaceport.

Superbird-7 rode in the upper position of Ariane 5’s dual payload “stack,” and was released first during the half-hour mission – separating 26 minutes into the flight. The spacecraft was orbited by Arianespace for Japanese operator Space Communications Corporation (SCC) in the framework of a contract with Mitsubishi Electric Corporation.

Once positioned at its orbital slot of 144 degrees East, Superbird-7 will succeed Space Communications Corporation’s current Superbird-C satellite, and is designed to provide a wide range of Ku-band telecommunications services with enhanced performance. Superbird-7 is based on the Mitsubishi Electric Corporation’s DS2000 satellite platform, and it had a liftoff mass of 4,820 kg.

The Superbird-7 launch continues Arianespace’s long relationship with Space Communications Corporation and the Japanese satellite telecommunications sector. It is the seventh SCC spacecraft launched by Ariane and the 23rd Japanese commercial satellite entrusted to Arianespace. Additionally, Superbird-7 was the second Mitsubishi Electric Corporation-built payload orbited by Ariane 5.

AMC-21’s deployment as Ariane 5’s second satellite passenger on today’s mission occurred from the launcher’s lower payload position 30 minutes after liftoff. This 2,500-kg. spacecraft was manufactured by Thales Alenia Space incorporating the Orbital Sciences STAR-2 satellite bus, and it will operate from SES’ new 125 degrees West orbital position.

The relay capacity provided by AMC-21 will be marketed by the U.S.-based SES AMERICOM, which is to offer the advanced Ku-band telecommunications links for mobile applications and TV broadcasting. Coverage will include the 50 U.S. states, as well as Southern Canada, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

AMC-21 was the 30th satellite launched by Arianespace for the SES group, building on the two companies’ association that spans nearly 25 years. Arianespace’s first ever mission – performed in 1984 with an Ariane 1 launcher – orbited SPACENET 1, which was operated by one of the SES group’s predecessor companies.

Arianespace will keep up the mission pace in 2008, with two more flights planned – making this the busiest calendar year since the Ariane 5’s commercial introduction in 1999.

Chairman & CEO Le Gall announced that the next Ariane 5 mission is set for the end of October, and will orbit another dual-satellite payload: Eutelsat’s HOT BIRD 9 and NSS-9 for SES NEW SKIES. In addition, this flight will carry two auxiliary passengers – a pair of French Spirale satellites that are demonstrators for a space-based military optical early warning system.

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