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Four O3b Network birds integrated to Arianespace Soyuz launcher
by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (ESA) Jun 24, 2013

File image.

The fifth Soyuz to be launched from French Guiana is now complete following the integration of its upper composite consisting of four O3b Networks satellites, their protective payload fairing and the Fregat upper stage.

This activity was performed at the Spaceport's ELS launch complex near the town of Sinnamary, beginning with the composite's transfer on a special transporter, followed by hoisting to the upper level of a purpose-built mobile gantry.

Final checkout of the Soyuz is now underway, leading to the Arianespace liftoff planned on Monday, June 24 at precisely 3:53:51 p.m., local time in French Guiana.

The cluster of four O3b Networks satellites to be orbited on Arianespace's upcoming flight will initiate the creation of a next-generation satellite network for telecommunications operators, Internet service providers, enterprise and government customers in emerging markets.

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. These Ka-band relay platforms are produced by Thales Alenia Space, and have a liftoff mass of 700 kg. each.

Arianespace prepares for upcoming Soyuz and Ariane 5 missions at the Spaceport
Arianespace The launch campaign for Arianespace's upcoming medium-lift Soyuz mission with four trailblazing Internet connectivity satellites is ready for final preparation following encapsulation of the O3b Networks spacecraft at the Spaceport in French Guiana and the launcher's rollout.

In parallel, payload checkout for the Spaceport's subsequent flight - employing a heavy-lift Ariane 5 - has moved into full swing with arrival of the mission's second passenger.

This activity continues the flight pace in French Guiana, building on the resources of Arianespace's three-member launcher family: Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega.

The Soyuz flight on June 24 - designated VS05 in Arianespace's launcher family numbering system - will have a duration of 2 hours and 22 minutes. Rollout of the three-stage vehicle took place last week and will be be followed by payload integration atop the Soyuz.

After the powered phases for the Soyuz ST-B vehicle's first three stages, the Fregat-MT upper stage will perform four burns, allowing deployment of the O3b spacecraft.

The Soyuz' total lift performance for Flight VS05 is estimated at 3,200 kg., which includes a combined mass of approximately 2,800 kg. for the four satellites. Once operational, these Ka-band relay platforms will initiate the constitution of a satellite constellation to provide telecommunications and Internet services combining high speed and low costs for billions of people across the world who do not yet have adequate internet access.

Separately, French Guiana yesterday welcomed the second satellite for Flight VA214 - an Ariane 5 mission planned in the second half of July. This is Europe's Alphasat, which is one of the world's most sophisticated communications satellites. Built by Astrium as prime contractor, Alphasat carries a new-generation advanced mobile L-band communications payload, along with four technological demonstration payloads for the European Space Agency (ESA).

Alphasat will weigh more than six metric tons at launch and is to be operated under an agreement between the European Space Agency and European commercial satellite operator Inmarsat.

Alphasat will be orbited on Flight VA214 along with INSAT-3D, built by India's space agency - the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).


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Le Bourget, France (AFP) June 17, 2013
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