[Satnews] Ariane Flight VA226 creates quite a stir with mission activity in full swing at the Spaceport to support Arianespace’s busy 2015 launch manifest—with the latest completed Ariane 5 rolling out for a liftoff tomorrow from French Guiana, and parallel preparations underway for two more flights involving another heavy-lift Ariane 5 and a lightweight Vega.
The Ariane 5 that was transferred today from the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building to the facility’s ELA-3 launch zone is now ready for final countdown to the September 30 evening liftoff. It is carrying the Sky Muster and ARSAT-2 telecommunications satellites for Australia and Argentina, respectively.
This mission is designated Flight VA226 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system, and will be the fifth Ariane 5 launch of 2015. Its total lift performance is set at more than 10,200 kg., which includes approximately 6,440 kg. for Sky Muster, the estimated 2,977 kg. mass of ARSAT-2, and the hardware for Ariane 5’s SYLDA dispenser system that accommodates the dual payload.
Ariane 5’s two passengers to be deployed in geostationary transfer orbit
To be released first during the mission is Sky Muster, which will deliver broadband services to more than 200,000 rural and remote Australians. It is the initial satellite to be orbited by Arianespace for nbn™, a Commonwealth of Australia-owned company.
Riding in Ariane 5’s lower payload position is ARSAT-2, to be operated by the state-owned Argentinian operator ARSAT—providing direct-to-home television (DTH), Internet access services for reception on VSAT antennas, along with data transmission and IP telephony.
As the final countdown begins for Flight VA226, the Ariane 5 for Arianespace’s Flight VA227 continues to take shape in the Launcher Integration Building at the Spaceport, where its cryogenic upper stage has now been integrated. With this step completed, Flight VA227’s Ariane 5 will be readied for transfer to the Final Assembly Building, where the mission’s Arabsat-6B satellite (for the Arab League’s Arabsat organization) and GSAT-15 (for the Indian Space Research Organisation) will be installed.
A busy November, with Ariane 5 and Vega missions scheduled...
Flight VA227 is scheduled for a November liftoff, and will be the 227th launch of an Ariane since the European launcher series entered operation in 1979.
In another area of the Spaceport, the assembly of a light-lift Vega has begun for the sixth launch of this smallest vehicle in Arianespace’s launcher family, targeted to send Europe’s LISA Pathfinder on its way for a pioneering space science mission.
The build-up process began when Vega’s P80 solid propellant first stage was moved to the Spaceport’s ZLV facility and positioned on the launch pad. This will be followed by the stacking of the launcher’s solid propellant second and third stages, as well as integration of the Attitude and Vernier Upper Module (AVUM) liquid bipropellant upper stage – and then “topped off” with its payload: LISA Pathfinder.
Arianespace on track for a record 12 launches in 2015
Vega has previously been launched five times from French Guiana since its introduction at the Spaceport in 2012, deploying a full range of satellite payloads. For the November mission, identified as Flight VV06, the launcher will place LISA Pathfinder in a slightly elliptical parking orbit. The spacecraft subsequently will use its own propulsion module to reach the final operational orbit: a 500,000-km.-by-800,000-km. halo orbit around the first Sun-Earth Lagrange point, 1.5 million km. from Earth.
Vega and Ariane 5 are two of the three members in Arianespace’s launcher family, which are joined at the Spaceport by the medium-lift Soyuz. Utilizing this complete inventory, the company is targeting a total of 12 missions during 2015.