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Arianespace Prepares For Its First Two Ariane 5 Missions Of 2008

File image.
by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (SPX) Feb 29, 2008
Preparations for Arianespace's initial two Ariane 5 flights of 2008 are in full swing at Europe's Spaceport as the company continues to demonstrate its ability to provide launch capacity and mission flexibility that meet customers' needs.

The two vehicles currently being readied at the Spaceport are an Ariane 5 ECA for liftoff in April with a pair of commercial telecommunications satellites, and the Ariane 5 ES for Arianespace's historic March 8 launch with the International Space Station's Automated Transfer Vehicle resupply spacecraft.

For the April mission, initial build-up of its Ariane 5 is nearing completion inside the Launcher Integration Building, where the cryogenic core stage has been mated with its two solid rocket boosters, and the cryogenic upper stage also has been installed.

This heavy-lift Ariane 5 is scheduled for liftoff during the first half of April, and will carry Vietnam's first telecommunications satellite, VINASAT-1, along with a second telecom platform in another of Arianespace's trademark dual-payload missions.

VINASAT-1 arrived in French Guiana earlier this week aboard an Antonov An-124 cargo aircraft, and is now undergoing initial pre-launch checkout in one of the Spaceport's clean rooms. The spacecraft was produced by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems for the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Corporation.

Based on Lockheed Martin's A2100A spacecraft platform, VINASAT-1 will improve telecommunications in Vietnam by providing radio, television and telephone communications coverage throughout the country. VINASAT-1 also will improve the nation's communications infrastructure by removing dependence on ground networks, and allowing 100 percent of Vietnam's rural communities and hamlets to be equipped with telephones and televisions.

This C-/Ku-band hybrid satellite is designed for a minimum service life of 15 years, and will be located at an orbital slot of 132 deg. East after its deployment by Ariane 5.

As the Ariane 5 ECA mission preparations move ahead, final steps are being completed for Arianespace's March 8 mission with the European-built Automated Transfer Vehicle. The launch vehicle for this flight is in the Spaceport's Final Assembly Building, where integration of the Ariane 5 ES is complete and the last series of verifications are being performed.

The European-built ATV resupply spacecraft will deliver propellant, oxygen, equipment, systems, food and water for the International Space Station and its crew, and is the first of nine ATV missions currently on Arianespace's order book for launch during the next several years to the manned orbital facility.

Arianespace's two upcoming flights in March and April are the first of seven Ariane 5 missions planned in 2008. Subsequent launches during the year will orbit the Herschel and Planck scientific payloads, as well as TerreStar 1 - the largest geostationary commercial communications satellite ever built.

In parallel, Arianespace's Starsem affiliate has set April 26 for a Soyuz launch from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome with Giove-B, the second demonstration satellite for Europe's Galileo satellite navigation constellation.

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Ariane ATV Begins Fueling In The S5 Facility At Europe's Spaceport
Kourou, French Guiana (SPX) Jan 11, 2008
A new milestone in the preparation campaign for Ariane 5's first human-rated spacecraft passenger has been achieved with the start-up of fueling for the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV). This process, which is being performed in the S5B fueling hall of the Spaceport's S5 payload preparation building, will load the ATV with two sets of propellants.

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