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LAUNCH PAD
Amazonas 4A is prepared for Arianespace's second Ariane 5 flight of 2014
by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (ESA) Feb 19, 2014


File image.

Pre-launch checkout is now underway in French Guiana with Amazonas 4A, one of two satellite passengers to be orbited on Arianespace's next mission with its workhorse heavy-lift Ariane 5 - which is scheduled for liftoff on March 7.

Amazonas 4A currently is in the Spaceport's S1B clean room facility, having been removed from the shipping container that protected this spacecraft during its voyage to French Guiana aboard a chartered cargo jetliner earlier this month.

Designed and built by Orbital Sciences Corporation based on its GEOStar-2 platform, Amazonas 4A will provide enhanced relay capacity over Latin America and an extended range of communications and television services for operator HISPASAT. After deployment by Ariane 5, it will operate from an orbital position of 61 deg. West.

Amazonas 4A is outfitted with 24 Ku-band active transponders for its mission, and has a liftoff mass of approximately 3,000 kg. The spacecraft offers a design life set at 15 years.

Joining Amazonas 4A on Ariane 5's upcoming flight is the Airbus Defence and Space-built ASTRA 5B satellite, which will extend operator SES' transponder capacity and geographical reach over Eastern Europe and neighboring markets - delivering direct-to-home, direct-to-cable and contribution feeds to digital terrestrial television networks. It also carries a hosted L-band payload for the European Commission's European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS).

The March 7 launch continues a busy year of mission activity for Arianespace, which was kicked off February 6 with another Ariane 5 dual-passenger success that orbited ABS-2 and Athena-Fidus. It will be the second of up to 12 Arianespace flights planned from the Spaceport in 2014, which would set an operational record for the company.

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Arianespace rockets excel at lifting the heaviest payloads into space, but a new technology allowing for lighter satellites is causing another big bang for an already fast-changing industry. The number one commercial launch operator, Arianespace is under intense pressure from a new slate of lower-priced rivals, including US start-up Space X. But now lighter-load electric propulsion used ... read more


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