Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ariane 5 Rocket Successfully Launches DirecTV-15 and Sky Mexico-1 Communications Satellites

Ariane 5 rocket launches DirecTV-15 and Sky Mexico-1 communications satellites on May 27. Image Credit: Arianespace

Ariane 5 rocket successfully launched two communications satellites on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, at 6:16 p.m. local time (5:16 p.m. EST) from Ariane Launch Complex No. 3 (ELA 3) at the Spaceport located in Kourou, French Guiana. The 223rd Arianespace mission designated Ariane Flight VA223, has delivered DirecTV-15 and Sky Mexico-1 satellites into orbit. “I’m delighted to announce another Ariane5 success! Our on-board telemetry system confirms both payloads separated as planned,” Stéphane Israël, Arianespace CEO, said shortly after the launch.

The Ariane 5 ECA (Cryogenic Evolution type A) – the most powerful version in the Ariane 5 range of rockets – was employed for this flight, a vehicle that is an improved version of the generic Ariane 5 launcher.

The fairing protecting the satellites was jettisoned at T+191 seconds, about 48 seconds after the launcher’s boosters were jettisoned at approximately at T+143 seconds.

DirecTV-15 was deployed first in today’s flight sequence at nearly 28 minutes after liftoff. Built by Airbus Defence and Space, the satellite will provide 28 active Ku-band and 25 active Ka-band/Rev-band transponders, and will offer new HD and 4K UHD direct TV broadcast services for the contiguous U.S. (CONUS), Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

DirecTV-15, United States’ most powerful television broadcasting satellite, is based on the Eurostar E3000 platform, and has a mass of 6,200 kg. It’s the 100th geostationary telecommunications satellite built by Airbus. The first DirectTV satellite was launched on Dec. 17, 1993.

Airbus currently manages the entire industrial supply chain, from the manufacture of equipment and stages to the complete integration of the Ariane 5 launcher in French Guiana, in line with the customer’s specifications.

Approximately 10 minutes later, Sky Mexico-1 was separated, completing the flight sequence. The Orbital ATK-built satellite, equipped with 24 active Ku-band and two active Rev-band transponders, will provide HD direct TV broadcast services for Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Sky Mexico-1 uses a GEOStar-2.4E platform, and has a mass of 3,000 kg. It’s the 26th satellite built by Orbital ATK that was launched by Arianespace.

Lift performance for the mission was approximately 9,960 kg., which included 9,200 kg. for the DirecTV-15 and SKY México-1 payloads, along with associated hardware for the launcher’s SYLDA dual-passenger dispenser system and satellite integration hardware.

The lifespan of both satellites is approximately 15 years.

The main stage is expected to fall back in the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean.

“We’re proud to deliver tonight for two operators in the Americas. We appreciate your trust DirecTV and Sky Mexico!” Israël said. “Congrats to Airbus Safran Launchers, Airbus Defence and Space, and Orbital ATK! You all had a decisive role in our success.”

Flight VA223 was the fourth mission in 2015 using an Arianespace family launcher, following one previous mission each with Ariane 5 (Flight VA222 with THOR 7 and SICRAL 2, performed on April 26), Soyuz (VS11 with two Galileo Full Operational Capability satellites, conducted on March 27), and Vega (Flight VV04 with Europe’s IXV spaceplane, carried out on February 11).

“VA223 is Arianespace’s fourth success this year... and we're hard at work to ensure there are more to come!” Israël said.

This mission is also testing the DEMOFLIGHT program objectives. The testing will validate the thermodynamic behavioral models of the tanks, evaluate the effectiveness of the engine chilldown procedures and evaluate the effectiveness of the propellant settling procedures.

Today’s mission, the 79th launch of an Ariane 5, continues Arianespace’s busy launch schedule in 2015, during which the company is targeting 11 mission in total – based on the availability of payloads – using its full family of the heavy-lift Ariane 5, medium-lift Soyuz and lightweight Vega launchers.

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