Friday, August 30, 2013

Ariane 5 launches with 25B/Es’hail-1 and GSAT-7

Ariane 5 launch. Credit: Arianespace

Thursday evening, an Ariane 5 launcher lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on its mission to place two communications satellites, Eutelsat 25B/Es’hail 1 and GSAT-7, into their planned geostationary transfer orbits. Liftoff of flight VA215 occurred at 20:30 GMT (22:30 CET; 17:30 French Guiana) at the opening of the launch window. The target injection orbit had a perigee altitude of 249 km, an apogee altitude of 35 929 km with an inclination of 3.5° relative to the equator. Eutelsat-25B/Es’hail 1 and GSAT-7 were accurately injected into their transfer orbits approximately 27 and 34 minutes after launch, respectively.

Eutelsat-25B/Es’hail 1 was the upper payload with an estimated liftoff mass of 6300 kg. Operating at an orbital position of 25.5°E, it will assist European telecommunications operator Eutelsat and Es’hailSat, the Qatar Satellite Company, in providing direct-broadcast services covering the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. This will include video broadcasting, telecommunications and government services.

Equipped with four steerable spot beam antennas and four deployable reflectors, along with advanced command and telemetry capabilities, Eutelsat-25B/Es’hail 1 follows on from the current Eutelsat-25C satellite to provide Ku-band range communications, while its Ka-band capability widens business opportunities for both operators.

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s GSAT-7 was the lower payload with an estimated liftoff mass of 2650 kg. It will provide multiband telecommunications over India from an orbital position of 74°E.

As planned, ISRO's Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka started acquiring the signals five minutes prior to the separation of GSAT-7 from Ariane-5 launch vehicle. The solar panels of the satellite have been deployed and they are generating power. Initial checks have indicated normal health of the satellite. 

The present orbit of the satellite will be raised to Geostationary Orbit of about 36,000 km altitude through three orbit raising manoeuvres by firing of GSAT-7's Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM). Preparations are underway for the first firing, planned in the early hours of August 31, 2013. The satellite will be placed in the Geostationary Orbit by Sep 04, 2013.

Flight VA215 was Ariane 5’s 57th successful launch in a row since December 2002.

Credit: ESAISRO

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