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by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (ESA) Jun 25, 2013
Arianespace played an important role in improving the world's connectivity with a successful medium-lift Soyuz launch this afternoon that orbited O3b Networks' initial four satellites.
The cluster of spacecraft was lofted on Arianespace's maiden Soyuz mission for O3b Networks, clearing the way for the establishment of telecommunications and Internet services over Asia, Africa, South America, Australia and the Middle East that combine the global reach of satellite coverage with the speed of a fiber-optic network.
O3b Networks' strategy is to provide billions of consumers and businesses in nearly 180 countries with low-cost, high-speed, low latency Internet and mobile connectivity.
The O3b Networks' slogan for this crucial launch was: "The Journey Begins," with these words even emblazoned on a charter aircraft that brought its executives - along with personnel from Arianespace, satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space and other guests - to French Guiana from Paris.
"Definitely, we can now say that 'the O3b journey has begun,'" said Arianespace Chairman and CEO Stephane Israel in comments from the mission control center after confirmation of the Soyuz mission success. "Let me tell you that there is no better reward for Arianespace than seeing the happy faces of our customer in the front row. In this very moment, pride and gratitude are the two words coming naturally to my mind."
Israel noted that O3b Networks is the 33rd new entrant in the satellite telecommunications business to choose Arianespace for launches that have started their operations.
Today's 2 hour, 22 minute flight began with the propulsion of Soyuz' basic three-stage launch vehicle, and was followed by four burns of its Fregat upper stage. O3b Networks' four satellites were released in two phases from a dispenser system atop the Fregat stage for operation in medium Earth orbit.
A total of 12 O3b Networks satellites are to be orbited by Arianespace in groups of four, with the next mission planned for later this year, and another in 2014. Thales Alenia Space produced the Ka-band relay platforms, which have a liftoff mass of approximately 700 kg. each.
Total payload lift performance for this mission - designated Flight VS05 in Arianespace's family numbering system, notating the fifth launch of its medium-lift workhorse from French Guiana - was 3,204 kg.
Steve Collar, the CEO of O3b Networks, thanked Arianespace for a "remarkable demonstration of power and beauty" during Soyuz' liftoff from the Spaceport's ELS launch zone, and confirmed that initial contact was made with the four satellites shortly after their deployment.
Today's flight was Arianespace's third since Stephane Israel became its new Chairman and CEO, which he noted in post-launch comments, acknowledging that the company's worldwide reputation is more than deserved.
"Arianespace's key success factors are the commitment of its institutional and industrial partners, the complementarity, reliability and availability of its launch vehicle family, as well as the dedication and competency of its teams," Israel explained. "Indeed, I wanted tonight to pay a tribute to the women and men who make Arianespace what it is on a daily basis, wherever they are located, in Evry, Kourou, or in our commercial offices abroad.
The next Arianespace mission is scheduled for July 25, using a heavy-lift Ariane 5 to orbit the Alphasat and INSAT-3D satellites.
Launch Pad at Space-Travel.com
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