As with the 71 Ariane 5s previously launched from French Guiana, this vehicle's build-up employed a well-established integration flow, with the core cryogenic stage being positioned over one of two operational launch tables, followed by rollout and mating of the two solid propellant boosters.
These steps will be followed by positioning of the cryogenic upper stage and vehicle equipment bay as a single unit atop the core stage, completing the initial assembly process in the Spaceport's Launcher Integration Building. The Ariane 5 then will be transferred to the Final Assembly Building for installation of both satellite passengers.
The December mission is designated Flight VA216 in Arianespace's launcher family numbering system, representing the 216th liftoff of an Ariane since this series of vehicles began operation in 1979.
Riding in the upper position of Ariane 5's payload "stack" will be ASTRA 5B, which is to extend SES' transponder capacity and geographical reach over Eastern European and neighboring markets for direct-to-home, direct-to-cable and contribution feeds to digital terrestrial television networks.
Built by Astrium, ASTRA 5B also carries a hosted L-band payload for the European Commission's European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS). With a design lifetime of 15 years, ASTRA 5B will have an estimated liftoff mass of 5,800 kg. and is to be positioned at an orbital location of 31.5 deg. East.
Astra 5B's launch is within the scope of SES' Multi-Launch Agreement with Arianespace, representing the exceptional relationship established by these two companies over the past two decades.
The lower passenger on Arianespace's Flight VA216 is HISPASAT's Amazonas 4A, to be located at an orbital position 61 deg. West after its deployment by the Ariane 5. This Orbital Sciences Corporation-produced telecommunications platform will enhance HISPASAT's relay capacity over Latin America to provide an extended range of communications and television services. With a launch mass of 3,000 kg., Amazonas 4A has a design lifespan of 15 years.