Saturday, November 7, 2015

Arianespace Ready to Launch ARABSAT-6B and GSAT-15 Satellites into Space

GSAT-15 is being positioned on the launch vehicle. Photo Credit: Arianespace

Arianespace is ready to launch on Tuesday, Nov. 10, its 10th mission this year, using the company’s workhorse launcher Ariane 5. The booster will lift off from the launch complex No. 3 (ELA 3) at Europe’s spaceport, located in Kourou, French Guiana. The mission, designated VA227, will deliver ARABSAT-6B and GSAT-15 satellites into a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). The 43-minute launch window opens at 4:34 p.m. EDT (21:34 GMT).

The Ariane 5 rocket passed the Launch Readiness Review on Friday, Nov. 6, what means that the booster as well as satellites and the ground-based tracking network are ready for the liftoff. The launch campaign started in late September, few days before the arrival of GSAT-15 in Kourou. ARABSAT‑6B was shipped to French Guaina on Oct. 2. After the arrival, the satellite duo started a busy month of tests, fitchecks and fueling operations, ending with integration on the payload adapter and encapsulation in the payload fairing. The rocket will be rolled out to the launch pad on Monday, Nov. 9.

Tuesday’s mission will last for one hour and eight minutes. The launcher will be carrying a total payload of 9.8 tons. ARABSAT-6B will separate from the launch vehicle about 27 minutes after the liftoff, while GSAT-15 will be deployed approximately 43 minutes into the flight. The rocket’s main stage will splash down off the coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean.

ARABSAT-6B, also known as BADR-7, was built by Airbus Defence and Space that provided the Eurostar E3000 platform and Thales Alenia Space (TAS), responsible for the payload delivery. With a spacecraft power of 11.5 kW and more than 15-year design life, ARABSAT-6B is the first satellite of sixth generation in Arabsat company’s fleet.

“The upcoming launch has a special significance for Airbus Defence and Space. Not only is it the first sixth-generation Arabsat satellite in which we have incorporated the best of our expertise and technologies, but also the seventh Eurostar satellite we are delivering to Arabsat,” said François Auque, the head of Space Systems at Airbus.

ARABSAT-6B has a liftoff mass 5.8 tons and reaches a total of 28 ft. in length when fully deployed in orbit. It will provide broadcast, broadband and telecommunications services over Middle East, Africa and Central Asia. The satellite features 27 active transponders in Ku-band and 24 spot beams in Ka-band, in addition to Ka-band transponders for additional services. 

The spacecraft will be joining Saudi Arabian Arabsat’s Badr-network at 26 degrees East hotspot. To date, 17 Arabsat satellites were launched into space.

Founded in 1976, Arabsat is one of the world’s top satellite operators and by far the leading satellite services provider in the Arab world.

GSAT-15, is India’s latest communication satellite. It will provide telecommunications services, as well as dedicated navigation-aid and emergency services for India. Weighing 3.1 tons at liftoff, GSAT-15 carries a total of 24 communication transponders in Ku-band as well as a GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) payload operating in L1 and L5 bands.

GSAT-15, built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is based on the I-3K (I-3000) bus. It is a standard bus for 3-ton class satellites; the 'I' in I-3K stands for INSAT, a group of communication satellites developed and launched by ISRO. The I-3K bus can supply DC power up to 6,500 watts, and is suitable for satellites with lift-off mass in range of 3-3.4 tons.

The satellite measures nearly 10 ft. in length when its two solar arrays are deployed. The spacecraft is expected to be operational for 12 years. It will be located at 93.5 degrees East longitude.

GSAT-15 will be the 19th payload launched by Arianespace for ISRO. The GSAT satellites are developed by ISRO with an objective to make India self-reliant in broadcasting services.

ARABSAT-6B and GSAT-15 are the 519th and 520th satellites to be launched by Arianespace.

Ariane 5 in ECA configuration that will be used in the launch is the heavy-lift rocket for missions to GTO and usually carries two telecommunications satellite payloads. 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 significant changes were made to the basic structure of the generic version to increase thrust and enable it to carry heavier payloads.

ECA is also used by institutional customers for non-GTO missions; for example, launching ESA’s Herschel and Plank scientific missions in 2008.

Tuesday’s mission will be the 227th liftoff of an Ariane vehicle from the Kourou Spaceport. It will be the sixth Ariane 5 launch of 2015 (83rd Ariane 5 launch overall), and the 10th of 12 flights planned this year by Arianespace utilizing its family of the heavy-lift Ariane 5, the medium-lift Soyuz, and the lightweight Vega.

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