Kourou, French Guiana (SPX) Oct 29, 2010
The Ariane 5 for Arianespace's next mission has moved to the launch pad at Europe's Spaceport, readying it for tomorrow's liftoff with a dual payload of telecommunications satellites for Europe and Japan.
Emerging under clear French Guiana skies at 10:45 a.m. local time, the heavy-lift Ariane 5 ECA was transferred during a one-hour process from the Spaceport's Final Assembly Building to the launch zone.
Preparations now are underway for tomorrow's final countdown, which will lead to liftoff during a launch window that opens at 6:51 p.m. local time and continues to 8:01 p.m.
Ariane 5's payload lift performance for this mission is a total of 8,263 kg., which includes a mass of approximately 7,460 kg. for its satellite passengers, along with the associated integration hardware and the launcher's SYLDA multi-payload dispenser system.
Riding as the upper passenger in Ariane 5's payload "stack" is Eutelsat's W3B, which will be released at just over 28 minutes into the flight.
This Thales Alenia Space-built telecommunications spacecraft weighs approximately 5.4 metric tons and carries 56 transponders.
To be located at an orbital position of 16 deg. East, W3B will renew and expand resources at a slot that reaches some of the most dynamic markets in the satellite business.
The 2,060-kg. BSAT-3b spacecraft - which was manufactured by Lockheed Martin Commercial Systems for Japan's B-SAT Corporation - will be deployed from Ariane 5's lower passenger position at approximately 38 minutes into the flight.
It is to provide direct television broadcast services from an orbital slot of 110 deg. East.
Tomorrow's mission is designated 197, signifying the 197th launch of an Ariane family vehicle since 1979.
The October 28 mission also will be Ariane 5's fourth flight of 2010, which follows three previous dual-payload launches: Arianespace's August 4 flight with RASCOM-QAF 1R and NILESAT 201; the June 26 mission that orbited the Arabsat-5A and COMS spacecraft, and the May 21 launch with ASTRA 3B and COMSATBw-2.
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