by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (ESA) Oct 11, 2012
Preparations are now fully underway for Arianespace's upcoming heavy-lift Ariane 5 mission scheduled in early November at the Spaceport - underscoring the company's launcher family operational flexibility, as this activity is in parallel with ongoing final checkout of a medium-lift Soyuz vehicle that will depart from French Guiana on Friday.
The Ariane 5 flight is designated VA210 in Arianespace's mission numbering system, and it will orbit two telecommunications relay satellites: EUTELSAT 21B for Europe's Eutelsat Communications, and Star One C3 for Star One S.A. of Brazil.
EUTELSAT 21B arrived this week in French Guiana, delivered by a chartered cargo jetliner that touched down at Cayenne's Felix Eboue Airport on October 8. The VA210 mission's Ariane 5 was transferred yesterday from the Spaceport's Launcher Integration Building to the Final Assembly Building, where it will be readied to receive the two satellite passengers.
With a liftoff mass of five metric tons, EUTELSAT 21B has a 15-year in-orbit design life and was built for Eutelsat by Thales Alenia Space using the Spacebus 4000 platform. This 40-transponder Ku-band satellite will operate from Eutelsat's 21.5 degrees East orbital position, which has been developed since 1999 as a relay location for telephone companies, enterprises and government administrations in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. EUTELSAT 21B's deployment will enable Eutelsat to boost capacity at this orbital slot by almost 50 percent.
VA210 will mark the 210th flight of an Ariane-series vehicle since the launcher family's startup of operations in 1979, and is to be Arianespace's sixth Ariane 5 mission so far in 2012.
The VA210 launcher activity is centered at the Spaceport's ELA-3 launch complex for Ariane 5, which is separated from the ELS facility used for Soyuz operations at French Guiana. By design, the Spaceport is able to carry out flight preparations in parallel with the heavy-lift Ariane 5, medium-lift Soyuz and lightweight Vega, enabling Arianespace to fully benefit from the availability of its complete launcher family.
In addition to ongoing actions for the VA210 mission - which is scheduled for liftoff on November 9 - the Spaceport also is ready for this Friday's launch of the Arianespace Soyuz VS03 mission, carrying two European Galileo navigation satellites on the Russian-built vehicle's third flight from French Guiana.
Launch Pad at Space-Travel.com
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