Payload preparations for Arianespace’s first flight in the new year are moving ahead with this week’s delivery of the mission’s second satellite, GSAT-31, to French Guiana, where the spacecraft will join the Saudi Geostationary Satellite 1/Hellas Sat 4 (HS-4/SGS-1), which arrived earlier in January.
This newly-delivered passenger for Ariane 5 was flown to South America aboard an Antonov An-124 cargo jetliner, which landed at Félix Eboué Airport near the French Guiana capital city of Cayenne. After the unloading process, the protective container with GSAT-31 was readied for transportation by road to the Spaceport to begin payload processing. Its HS-4/SGS-1 co-passenger for the upcoming Ariane 5 mission underwent these same procedures following its own delivery on January 4.
Designated Flight VA247 in Arianespace’s numbering system, the year-opening Ariane 5 flight will lift off on February 5 — kicking off a fast-paced operational schedule that will include up to 12 missions using the company’s launcher family, with the heavy-lift Ariane 5 joined by the medium Soyuz and lightweight Vega.
Arianespace’s 2019 mission activity initiated by Flight VA247 will build on the company’s 11 launches last year, which placed nearly 57 metric tons into orbit for 13 different customers. In parallel, Arianespace will continue preparation activity during 2019 for the introduction of its next-generation launch vehicles: Vega C and Ariane 6.