French Guiana - Arianespace performed its third Ariane 5 flight of 2010 today to orbit another dual-satellite payload and also announced two new contracts – further underscoring the company’s leadership role in the commercial launch services sector.
The Ariane 5’s evening mission from the Spaceport successfully orbited two satellites that will provide telecommunications services to Africa, the Middle East and Persian Gulf states: NILESAT 201 for Egyptian-based Nilesat, and RASCOM-QAF1R for the Pan-African satellite operator, RascomStar-QAF. Both spacecraft were built by Thales Alenia Space.
“This was the 38th consecutive launch success for Ariane 5,” said Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall in comments after the flight. “Since the start of 2010, we already have launched six large telecommunications satellites – which, I want to underscore – is more than all our competitors combined.”
Le Gall also detailed the company’s two new launch contracts: GSAT 10 for the Indian Space Research Organization and Intelsat-20 for Intelsat. They further strengthen Arianespace’s order book, bringing to 32 the number of satellites on backlog to be launched by the company, along with six Automated Transfer Vehicles for servicing of the International Space Station. This volume will cover 22 launches of the Ariane 5, along with 17 flights for Soyuz.
During today’s mission, the heavy-lift Ariane 5 delivered an estimated total payload lift performance of 7,085 kg., which included 6,250 kg. for the NILESAT 201 and RASCOM-QAF1R satellites, plus their integration hardware and the SYLDA 5 dual-payload dispenser system.
Ariane 5 confirms its accuracy with an on-target delivery
Following its daytime liftoff from the Spaceport, the Ariane 5 provided another highly accurate payload delivery, with the following provisional orbital parameters for the injection of its cryogenic upper stage:
- Perigee: 248.4 km. for a target of 248.4 km.
- Apogee: 35,923 km. for a target of 35,919 km.
- Inclination: 2.00 deg. for a target of 2.00 deg.
NILESAT 201 was released first in the flight sequence, being deployed from the top of Ariane 5’s payload “stack” at just under 29 minutes into the mission. With a liftoff mass of about 3,200-kg., the satellite carries 24 Ku-band and 4 Ka-band transponders, and is to be positioned at an orbital slot of 7 deg. West. It will provide direct television broadcasting for the Middle East, Africa and Gulf states, and also has the relay capability to open new markets such as broadband Internet access.
Le Gall noted that NILESAT 201 is the third spacecraft orbited by Arianespace for Nilesat. “After the launch of NILESAT 101 in 1998 and Nilesat 102 in 2000, we are extremely proud to mark a new step in our partnership this evening,” he said.
RASCOM-QAF1R was the second payload that Arianespace has launched for RASCOM (the Regional African Satellite Communications Organization), which was created in the 1990s to implement, operate and maintain the space segment of an African telecommunications satellite system.
The RASCOM-QAF1R platform weighed approximately 3,050 kg. at liftoff and is to be operated from an orbital position of 2.85 degrees East. It is designed to deliver communications services to rural parts of Africa, including long-distance domestic and international links, direct TV broadcasts and Internet access.
“With this new satellite, the African continent – along with portions of Europe and the Middle East – will receive innovative services, which are fundamental for the rapid development of telecommunications in these regions of the world,” Le Gall stated.
In his post-launch comments, Le Gall also pointed out that Arianespace has orbited almost two-thirds of the satellites built by Thales Alenia Space, underscoring the close links between the two companies.
He concluded today’s launch activity with details on Arianespace’s next heavy-lift Ariane 5 mission, which is scheduled for liftoff on September 15 with Eutelsat’s W3B telecommunications satellite and the BSAT-3b relay platform for B-SAT Corporation.
Le Gall noted that Arianespace is maintaining its sustained mission rate in 2010, with a total of six Ariane 5 flights planned for the year. In addition, preparations continue for the upcoming introductions of Soyuz and Vega at the Spaceport.