Kourou, French Guiana (SPX) May 20, 2011
The 44th consecutive successful Ariane 5 flight has further underscored the flexibility and performance of this workhorse launch system - orbiting a pair of telecommunications spacecraft to serve one of the world's most dynamically-developing regions, and maintaining Arianespace's mission pace in 2011.
Lifting off on time from the Spaceport in French Guiana at 5:38 p.m., the heavy-lift vehicle deployed its Asian/Indian payload of the ST-2 and GSAT-8 satellite passengers during a 31-minute mission that marked Ariane 5's third launch this year.
"Coming less than one month after the previous launch, this 44th success in a row is particularly remarkable and demonstrates the competence of our operational team, which - launch after launch - confirms that it is the world's best," said Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall.
Nine Ariane 5 flights in 12 months
As a confirmation of Ariane 5's reactivity and accuracy, this flight was its ninth mission in 12 calendar months, providing a near-perfect payload delivery. The estimated orbital parameters at the cryogenic upper stage's injection were: - Perigee: 249.3 km. for a target of 249.3 km. - Apogee: 35,941 km. for a target of 35,940 km. - Inclination: 2.49 deg. for a target of 2.50 deg.
The daytime launch was Arianespace's second at the service of ST Satellite Ventures, and follows the orbiting of its ST-1 spacecraft in 1998. ST-2 will be utilized by this joint venture of Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) and Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom Company in delivering IP-based fixed and mobile, voice and data transmission satellite services to businesses - especially direct broadcast TV operators and maritime companies in Asia and the Middle East.
ST-2 was built by Japan's Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (MELCO), and is configured with Ku- and C-band relay duties. Based on the company's DS2000 spacecraft bus, the satellite weighed an estimated 5,090 kg. at liftoff, and its manufacture by MELCO represented the first time this Japanese manufacturer has entered the commercial telecommunications satellite market outside of its home country.
The second passenger in Ariane 5's dual-payload "stack" on the launch was GSAT-8, which marked the 14th Indian satellite lofted by Ariane family vehicles during a 30-year timeframe.
GSAT-8 was built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and weighed approximately 3,100 kg. for liftoff. Configured with 24 transponders, this satellite will augment India's Ku-band relay capabilities - primarily for direct-to-home TV broadcast services, with a coverage zone over the entire Indian subcontinent. Additionally, GSAT-8 carries the two-channel GAGAN system for aircraft navigation assistance over Indian airspace and adjoining areas.
Three more Ariane 5 missions planned in 2011
The 58th flight of an Ariane 5 was the 202nd liftoff of an Ariane vehicle since the European launcher family began operations in 1979.
Following this success, Le Gall confirmed that Arianespace will continue the sustained mission cadence in 2011, with three more Ariane 5 launches and the initial liftoffs of its medium-lift Soyuz and lightweight Vega planned from the Spaceport this year - complemented by continuing Soyuz operations at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The Spaceport's next Ariane 5 flight is targeted for early July with the ASTRA 1N and BSAT 3C/JCSAT110R spacecraft, to be followed several days later by a Soyuz mission from Baikonur Cosmodrome with six Globalstar satellites.
Liftoff of the 58th Ariane 5 mission came at 22:38 CEST (20:38 GMT; 17:38 French Guiana). The target injection orbit had a perigee altitude of 249 km, an apogee altitude at injection of 35 947 km and an inclination of 2.5 degrees . The satellites were accurately injected into their transfer orbits about 27 minutes and 31 minutes after liftoff, respectively.
ST-2 will be positioned above the equator at 88 degrees E. It will provide Internet-based fixed and mobile, voice and data transmission satellite services to businesses, in particular direct broadcast TV operators and maritime companies in Asia and the Middle East.
GSAT-8, to be positioned over 55 degrees E, will provide mainly direct-to-home TV broadcast and radionavigation services to the Indian subcontinent.
The payload mass for this launch was 9013 kg; the satellites totalled 8190 kg, with payload adapters and dispensers making up the additional 823 kg.
Arianespace and Europe's Spaceport are planning three more Ariane launches in 2011, maintaining the heavy-lift vehicle's flight rate.
VA201 flight timeline
The solid boosters were jettisoned 2 min 21 sec after main engine ignition, and the fairing protecting the payload during the climb through Earth's atmosphere was discarded at 3 min 09 sec.
The launcher's main engine was shut down at 8 min 54 sec; six seconds later, the main cryogenic stage separated from the upper stage and its payload.
Four seconds after main stage separation, the engine of the cryogenic upper stage was ignited to continue the journey. The engine was shut down at 24 min 51 sec into the flight, at which point the vehicle was travelling at 9350 m/s (33 660 km/h) at an altitude of 658.4 km. The conditions for geostationary transfer orbit injection had been achieved.
At 27 min 08 sec after main engine ignition, ST-2 separated from the upper stage, followed by GSAT-8 at 31 min 17 sec. Ariane 5's flight operations were completed 46 min 08 sec after main engine ignition.
'The orbit-raising of the 1,426 kg (dry mass) of GSAT-8 was conducted in the wee hours by firing the 440 Newton liquid apogee onboard the spacecraft for 95 minutes from MCF at Hassan in Karnataka (about 180 km from here),' an ISRO statement said here.
Following the manoeuvre, the orbit of the satellite has been raised to 15,786 km at its closest point to earth (perigee) and 35,768 km at its farthest point (apogee).
'The inclination of the orbit along the equatorial plane has been reduced 0.5 degree from 2.5 degree when entering the orbit. The satellite will be moving in the present elliptical orbit in 15 hours and 56 minutes,' the statement noted.
The Rs.260-crore GSAT-8 was launched onboard Ariane-V rocket of Arianespace early Saturday from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana off the South American coast and placed in the intended geo-synchronous orbit.
'All systems onboard the satellite are normal,' the statement added.
The satellite will be gradually put into the 36,000 km geosynchronous orbit over the next couple of days and its antenna and solar panels will be deployed.
The cuboid-shaped spacecraft has 24 high-power Ku-band transponders as its payload for direct-to-home (DTH) services from July 1 by state-run and private broadcasters after its induction into the Indian satellite (INSAT) system.
Along with the satellite, a two-channel global positioning system (GPS)-aided geo augmented navigation (Gagan) payload will operate in L1 and L5 bands when activated, according to the statement.
The satellite will be positioned at 55 degree east longitude and co-located with the INSAT-3E satellite.
The designed in-orbit mission life of the satellite is 12 years.
The 24 Ku-band transponders will augment the capacity in the INSAT system.
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Taiwan, Singapore launch satellite
Taipei (AFP) May 21, 2011
Taiwan's leading telecom operator Chunghwa Telecom has launched its second commercial communications satellite in a joint venture with Singapore Telecommunications, local media said Saturday. The launch of the ST-2 satellite took place from the Kourou Space Centre in French Guiana late Friday local time, Taiwan's state-funded Central News Agency reported. The satellite will have a life s ... read more
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