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LAUNCH PAD
Launcher assembly begins for Arianespace's seventh Ariane 5 mission in 2012
by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (ESA) Oct 29, 2012


illustration only

Initial build-up is underway at the Spaceport for Arianespace's seventh Ariane 5 to be launched from French Guiana this year, initiating preparations to support this mid-December flight with the Skynet 5D and Mexsat 3 telecommunications satellites.

Designated Ariane Flight VA211, the mission maintains Arianespace's sustained launch pace that benefits from designed-in flexibility of the Spaceport's heavy-lift launcher processing flow.

The Flight VA211 vehicle is beginning to take shape inside the Spaceport's Launcher Assembly Building, while a nearly-completed Ariane 5 for Arianespace's upcoming Flight VA210 currently is in the Final Assembly Building, ready to receive its EUTELSAT 21B and Star One C3 passengers for a November liftoff.

Flight VA211's Skynet 5D passenger will ride in Ariane 5's upper payload slot for deployment first during the mission, while Mexsat 3 is to be installed as the launcher's lower passenger.

Skynet 5D was built by the Astrium division of EADS and is based on a high-power E3000 variant of the company's Eurostar series.

It will weigh approximately 5,000 kg. at launch and carry X-band transponders to provide secure voice and data communications for military operations in peacekeeping and battlefield conditions. Users of the Skynet system include the British armed forces, other European countries' militaries, NATO nations and Australia.

The Mexsat 3 passenger for Arianespace Flight VA211 is produced by U.S. satellite manufacturer Orbital Sciences Corporation, and will have a liftoff mass of nearly 3,050 kg. with its complement of extended C-band and Ku-band transponders.

The satellite will provide next-generation communications services throughout Mexico and its surrounding waters, with a design in-orbit lifetime of more than 15 years.

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