Kourou, French Guiana (SPX) Mar 26, 2010
Arianespace is ready for the start of a record operational year with the go-ahead for Friday's heavy-lift Ariane 5 launch, which will orbit SES ASTRA's ASTRA 3B commercial telecommunications satellite and Germany's COMSATBw-2 secure military relay platform.
Authorization for the March 26 flight was given following a launch readiness review on March 24, which is held before each Arianespace mission. It validated the "go" status for Ariane 5, along with its two spacecraft passengers, the launch infrastructure at the Spaceport in French Guiana, and the network of downrange tracking stations.
This approval clears Ariane 5 for its transfer tomorrow from the Final Assembly Building to the ELA-3 launch complex. The final countdown will then begin, leading to the liftoff during a launch window on Friday that opens at 7:03 p.m. local time, and continues to 7:52 p.m. (22h03-22h52 UTC).
The flight is Arianespace's first in a busy year that is scheduled to include seven missions with Ariane 5, which will be joined in 2010 by the medium-lift Soyuz.
Preparations also are moving ahead for the lightweight Vega's upcoming introduction - which will provide Arianespace with a complete launcher family that operates side-by-side at the Spaceport.
For this Friday's launch, Ariane 5 will have a total lift performance of approximately 9,115 kg., which includes 7,970 kg. for the ASTRA 3B and COMSATBw-2 satellites, plus associated launcher integration hardware and the SYLDA dual-payload dispenser system.
From liftoff to the deployment of Ariane 5's two passengers, the flight is to have a duration of just over 33 minutes. It will be the 194th mission of an Ariane family vehicle, and the 50th for Ariane 5.
A milestone Ariane 5 is ready for Arianespace's first mission of 2010
Emerging from the Final Assembly Building at 10:00 a.m. under cloudy French Guiana skies, the Ariane 5 moved to the ELA-3 launch complex during a transfer process lasting 1 hr., 45 min.
It is installed atop one of two operational mobile launch tables for Arianespace's heavy-lift vehicle, and it was transferred using the rail system that links key elements of the Spaceport's launch infrastructure.
The payload fairing on this Ariane 5 carries a special "50th Ariane 5 launch" logo, signifying its milestone role in the career of Arianespace's workhorse commercial launcher. Ariane 5 made its first demonstration flight 1996, and entered service with Arianespace in 1999.
Preparations now are underway for tomorrow's final countdown, which will lead to the liftoff during a March 26 launch window that opens at 7:03 p.m. local time and continues to 7:52 p.m. (22h03-22h52 UTC).
Tomorrow's mission will be the first of seven Ariane 5 flights planned in 2010. Its payload consists of the ASTRA 3B commercial telecommunications satellite for SES ASTRA and the COMSATBw-2 secure military relay spacecraft for the German Bundeswehr (armed forces).
ASTRA 3B is installed in the upper passenger position of Ariane 5's dual payload "stack," and is to be released at just under 28 minutes into the flight. Built for SES ASTRA by EADS Astrium, ASTRA 3B has a liftoff mass of approximately 5,471 kg. and carries 60 active Ku-band transponders, along with four Ka-band transponders.
After its deployment by Ariane 5, ASTRA 3B will be located at 23.5 degrees East. This is ASTRA's orbital position for delivering Direct-to-Home (DTH) broadcast services mainly to the Benelux and Eastern Europe countries, and also will enable two-way broadband services across Europe and the Middle East.
The COMSATBw-2 spacecraft is riding as the Ariane 5's lower passenger, and is positioned under the launcher's SYLDA 5 payload dispenser. The 2,440-kg. satellite was designed, integrated and tested by Thales Alenia Space on behalf of EADS Astrium - the program's space segment prime contractor.
COMSATBw-2 will be separated from Ariane 5 at approximately 33 min. 20 sec. into the flight, and is to operate from an orbital position of 63 deg. East.
It is equipped with four SHF-band transponders and five UHF-band transponders, and will provide a secure broadband network for uninterrupted communications between the German government, military authorities and armed forces deployed around the world. It follows the COMSATBw-1 satellite, which was orbited by Ariane 5 last October.
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