The first of two satellite payloads for Arianespace’s initial Ariane 5 mission of 2010 has arrived in French Guiana. SES ASTRA’s ASTRA 3B spacecraft was delivered by an Antonov An-124 cargo jetliner, which landed yesterday at Rochambeau International Airport near the capital city of Cayenne.
Built by EADS Astrium, ASTRA 3B is a state-of-the-art Ku- and Ka-band spacecraft designed for the distribution of both direct-to-home broadcast (DTH) services and two-way broadband services across Europe and the Middle East. It will be positioned at the increasingly important 23.5 degrees East orbital position for SES ASTRA. ASTRA 3B has a payload power of 10 kW, and can operate at a relay capacity of up to 60 transponders in Ku-band and 4 in Ka-band. It is based on the Eurostar E3000 satellite bus, and is equipped with six mission antennas — four of which are side-mounted and will be deployed in orbit. With a launch mass of 5,470 kilograms, ASTRA 3B has been designed for a nominal lifetime of 15 years. Liftoff of the upcoming dual-payload Ariane 5 mission is set for March 24, initiating another busy schedule in which Arianespace has planned a total of seven flights for its heavy-lift workhorse during 2010. In addition, three missions are targeted with the medium-lift Soyuz from its new Spaceport launch facility, and the lightweight Vega vehicle’s maiden flight also could occur before year-end from the Spaceport.