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Satnews Daily
April 19th, 2012

Arianespace...Good Things Do Happen On Friday The 13th

[SatNews] Touchdown, and all went well despite the superstitious who fear Friday the 13th...

After completing a trans-Atlantic flight from Europe on April 13, MSG-3’s protective shipping container is unloaded from its An-124 cargo jetliner at Cayenne’s Rochambeau/Félix Eboué International Airport (photo at left). On the next day, this container was opened inside the Spaceport’s S5 payload preparation facility, clearing the way for a start-up of MSG-3’s pre-launch checkout.

Europe's latest second-generation meteorological spacecraft has arrived at the Spaceport, where it is being readied for Arianespace's June 19 dual-payload Ariane 5 mission from French Guiana.

The Meteosat Second Generation-3 (MSG-3) satellite touched down at Cayenne's Rochambeau Ebou International Airport on Friday, April 13, aboard a chartered Antonov An-124 cargo jetliner.

It was transferred by road to the Spaceport's S5 payload preparation facility where this weather observation platform was removed from the shipping container on Saturday for a start-up of pre-launch checkout.

Arianespace's mission with MSG-3 will mark the ninth Meteosat-series satellite launched by Ariane vehicles from French Guiana since 1981 for operation in geostationary orbit. A total of six Meteosat First Generation meteorological platforms were orbited on flights performed in June 1981, June 1988, March 1989, March 1991, November 1993, and September 1997.

This was followed by the two second-generation spacecraft deployed in August 2002 and December 2005.

MSG-3 was manufactured by Thales Alenia Space for the European Space Agency (ESA) and EUMETSAT (the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites), and it will be lofted along with EchoStar XVII on Arianespace's third Ariane 5 mission of 2012 marking the 207th Ariane-series vehicle flight (which has been designated VA207 in the company's launcher family numbering system).

VA207 will be Arianespace's third Ariane 5 mission in 2012, following the liftoff of VA205 on March 23 with Europe's third Automated Transfer Vehicle, and the VA206 flight that is scheduled for May 15 with Japan's JCSAT-13 broadcasting/communications satellite and the VINASAT-2 telecommunications relay spacecraft for Vietnam.

While MSG-3 is being readied for its Ariane 5 liftoff from the Spaceport in French Guiana, another European weather satellite 'MetOp-B' is undergoing preparation for a Soyuz launch to be performed by Arianespace's Starsem facilitate from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome on May 23.

MetOp-B is a polar-orbiting meteorological platform, and will join the MetOp-A spacecraft — launched by Starsem in October 2006 on another Soyuz mission from Baikonur Cosmodrome.

As with the Meteosat satellites, MetOp-A and MetOp-B were developed in a joint undertaking between ESA and EUMETSAT.

In this case, the cooperation covers the production and deployment of three such polar-orbiting satellites.