Arianespace reinforced its position as the world’s commercial launch services provider of choice with the fourth Ariane 5 flight of 2009, which orbited two Asia-Pacific telecommunications satellites tonight (August 21) on the 32nd consecutive mission success of this workhorse vehicle.
Lifting off from the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch zone in French Guiana, the Ariane 5 injected its JCSAT-12 and Optus D3 payloads into geostationary transfer orbit during a flight that lasted just over 34 minutes.
Tonight’s mission marked another on-time departure for Ariane 5, starting its climb-out at the 7:09 p.m. opening of a one-hour launch window. It quickly passed through a thin layer of clouds, and was followed by tracking cameras that provided a clear view of the launcher’s trajectory – including the downrange separation of Ariane 5’s two solid propellant boosters at an altitude of nearly 68 kilometers.
The satellite passengers lofted by Ariane 5 were built by U.S. manufacturers and will be operated by two of Arianespace’s key Asia-Pacific customers: SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation of Japan and the Optus telecommunications provider in Australia.
Ariane 5’s payload lift performance for tonight’s heavyweight flight was approximately 7,655 kg. – which included the two satellites’ combined 6,500-kg. mass, plus the SYLDA dual-passenger dispenser system and satellite integration hardware for the vehicle’s payload “stack.”
It marked another highly accurate delivery by Ariane 5, with the following provisional parameters at injection of the launch vehicle’s cryogenic upper stage:
+ Perigee: 250.1 km. for a target of 249.6 km.
+ Apogee: 36,010 km. for a target of 35,961 km.
+ Inclination: 2.01 deg. for a target of 2.00 deg.
Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall thanked both SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation and Optus for their trust, and underscored the two customers’ long-term relationship with the launch services company.
“Our collaboration with the Asia-Pacific region is in the limelight tonight, and this success illustrates once again how our Service and Solutions commercial offer is recognized around the world,” Le Gall said in post-launch comments from the Spaceport’s Jupiter control center.
He noted that SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation has entrusted Arianespace with 17 satellites for launch from the successful orbiting of JCSAT-1 in 1989. “Therefore, tonight we celebrate the 20th anniversary of our cooperation with Japan, and I want to tell our Japanese friends that we are particularly proud of the confidence and fidelity they have shown for so many years,” Le Gall added.
JCSAT-12 was built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems in Newtown, Pennsylvania, and had a mass of approximately 4,000 kg. for its Ariane 5 liftoff. This high-power spacecraft was the 40th Lockheed Martin-produced spacecraft launched by Arianespace, and it carries 30 Ku-band transponders plus 12 C-band transponders.
Deployed at just under 27 minutes into the Ariane 5’s mission tonight, JCSAT-12 will serve as the successor to SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation’s JCSAT-R – which currently is in geostationary orbit as a backup relay platform.
The Ariane 5’s Optus D3 passenger was injected into orbit 34 minutes after liftoff, and was the sixth satellite lofted by Arianespace for SingTel Optus – the Australian integrated telecommunications provider whose parent company is Singapore Telecommunications Limited (SingTel).
Optus D3 was manufactured by Dulles, Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corporation, and is based on the company’s START spacecraft bus. Designed to provide fixed communications and direct television broadcasting services for Australia and New Zealand, Optus D3 weighed 2,500 kg. at liftoff. The spacecraft is equipped with 32 Ku-band transponders, and will be located at an orbital position of 156 deg. East.
“Our relationship with SingTel Optus goes back many years, and it is an honor that a customer in one of the world’s most dynamic – and demanding – regions has renewed their confidence in us,” Le Gall said.
He added that Arianespace’s links with Japan, Singapore and Australia will continue as the result of new contracts signed this year for the future launch of JCSAT-13 for SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation, as well as ST-2 for the ST-2 Satellite Ventures Pte Ltd joint venture of SingTel and Chunghwa Telecom Company Ltd.
Tonight’s mission was the 190th performed to date by a launcher of the Ariane family. Following this latest success, Arianespace is keeping up the sustained launch rate with the goal of performing seven flights during 2009 – making it the busiest mission year with Ariane 5 since the heavy-lift vehicle’s commercial service introduction in 1999.
The Ariane 5 for Arianespace’s next mission has completed its initial build-up in the Spaceport’s Launcher Integration Building. This vehicle is ready for transfer to the Final Assembly Building, where its dual-passenger payload – consisting of the Amazonas 2 satellite for Spanish-based telecom operator Hispasat, and the GMS relay platform for Germany – will be integrated. As announced tonight, this 191st Ariane flight is targeted for late September.
In parallel activity, the 192nd Ariane vehicle was delivered to the Spaceport this week, with the latest Ariane 5 ECA is ready to start its assembly for Arianespace’s sixth launch of 2009.