Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Arianespace to Launch Two Communications Satellites on Thursday

EUTELSAT 8 West B satellite. Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace

European launch service provider Arianespace is gearing up to lift off EUTELSAT 8 West B and Intelsat 34 communications satellites on the company’s seventh mission this year. The flight, designated VA225, will see an Ariane 5 rocket blasting off from Ariane Launch Complex No. 3 (ELA 3) at the Europe’s spaceport located in Kourou, French Guiana. The launch window, scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 20 will begin at 4:10 p.m. EDT and will last for nearly two hours, ending at 5:56 p.m. EDT.

The launcher will be carrying a total payload of about 10 tons. The mission objective is to put two communications satellites into a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

Fitted with 40 active Ku-band transponders, EUTELSAT 8 West B will be positioned at 8° West, and will provide in particular high-definition and ultra-high-definition direct TV broadcast services to North Africa and the Middle East. The satellite is also equipped with ten C-band transponders, allowing it to provide telecommunications services in Africa and the eastern part of South America.

Built by Thales Alenia Space (TAS) using a Spacebus 4000 C4 platform, EUTELSAT 8 West B is the 143rd satellite built by TAS (and its predecessors), to be orbited by Arianespace. The satellite, weighing 5.8 tons, is planned to be operational for 15 years. It will go into full commercial service early October following checks to validate its performance in orbit.

EUTELSAT is the leading operator in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, and third worldwide in terms of revenues. It has entrusted its satellites to Arianespace for over 30 years, starting with the launch of its first satellite, Eutelsat-1-F1, in June 1983.

Intelsat 34, weighing 3.3 tons, will provide services for Latin America media customers in C-band and host a leading Brazilian DTH platform in Ku-band. It will also provide Ku-band infrastructure for aeronautical and maritime service providers delivering mobility services over the North Atlantic routes. It will replace Intelsat 805 and Galaxy 11 satellites.

Built by Space Systems Loral (SSL) using the SSL 1300 platform, Intelsat 34 is the 51st geostationary platform built by SSL (and its predecessors), to be orbited by Arianespace. The satellite’s lifespan is 15 years.

Intelsat 34 uses SSL’s heritage electric propulsion system, the SPT-100, which is actively in use on 17 satellites with more than 40,000 hours of successful on orbit operation. 

“We look forward to the launch next month and to providing expanded coverage in Latin America and the North Atlantic with Intelsat 34,” said Thierry Guillemin, EVP and Chief Technology Officer of Intelsat.

As the world’s leading provider of satellite services in terms of revenues and in-orbit capacity, Intelsat’s fleet of approximately 50 satellites delivers high performance connectivity solutions for media, fixed and mobile broadband infrastructure, enterprise and government and military applications. Intelsat’s relationship with Arianespace began in October 1983 with the launch of Intelsat 507.

EUTELSAT 8 West B is positioned as the upper passenger on Ariane 5, and will be released first during the flight, 28 minutes after the lift-off, followed by Intelsat 34’s deployment from the launcher’s lower payload position. The mission’s duration is just under 42 minutes from the South American lift-off to deployment of its two satellites. The main stage of the rocket will fall back off the coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean (in the Gulf of Guinea).

Both satellites arrived in Kourou in mid-July. They were transferred to the Final Assembly Building in French Guiana on Aug. 10 and encapsulated on the launcher two days later.

Last week, at the Spaceport’s Ariane 5 Final Assembly Building, both passengers for the dual-payload mission to geostationary transfer orbit, have been also installed atop their launcher, completing the build-up process.

The launch readiness review was completed on Tuesday, Aug. 18. Next day, the Ariane 5 rocket was rolled out to the Spaceport’s launch zone.

Ariane 5 in ECA configuration that will be used in the launch is the heavy-lift rocket for missions to GTO. It is powered during the initial flight phase by a cryogenic core stage and two solid rocket boosters, followed by the use of a cryogenic upper stage for orbital injection of the payload.

The 180 ft. (54.8 m) tall ECA is an improved version of the Ariane 5 launcher, designed to deliver payloads, mainly communications satellites, weighing up to 10 metric tons. Although it has the same general architecture, some major changes were made to the basic structure of the generic version to increase thrust and enable it to carry heavier payloads.

EUTELSAT 8 West B and Intelsat 34 will be the 513th and 514th satellites launched by Arianespace.

Thursday’s lift-off follows the previous three Ariane 5 launches in 2015: Flight VA224 on July 15 (with the Star One C4 and MSG-4 satellites), Flight VA223 on May 27 (carrying DirecTV-15 and SKY México-1), and Flight VA222 on Apr. 26 (with THOR 7 and SICRAL 2).

Arianespace also has performed two light-lift Vega missions to date in 2015: Flight VV05 on June 22, and Feb. 11’s Flight VV04; along with one utilizing its medium-weight Soyuz vehicle (Flight VS11 on Mar. 27).

The spaceport in French Guiana is busy with preparations for several of the company’s other upcoming missions. Another heavy-lift vehicle is taking shape for Flight VA226 at the launch site’s Launcher Integration Building for Ariane 5, which will orbit the NBN Co 1A satellite for Australia’s National Broadband Network and ARSAT-2 for Argentinean satellite operator ARSAT in September.

At separate locations, two European Galileo navigation satellites and their Soyuz launcher are being readied for Flight VS12 – scheduled in September as well from French Guiana; while elements are on-hand at the launch base for the Vega vehicle that will loft Europe’s LISA Pathfinder on a November mission to explore the Universe.

Arianespace is planning 11-12 missions during 2015 with its Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega launcher family.

Thursday’s liftoff will be the 225th Arianespace launch and the 81st launch of an Ariane 5 rocket.

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