[SatNews] Arianespace's fourth flight of its heavy-lift Ariane 5 this year—and the company's seventh mission overall in 2015—is a "go" for liftoff on Thursday, August 20, following the launch readiness review at the Spaceport in French Guiana.
The review—known by the French acronym RAL (for "Revue d'Aptitude au Lancement")—is one of the final steps in every Arianespace launch campaign. This latest RAL confirmed the readiness of the workhorse Ariane 5 vehicle, its dual payload of the EUTELSAT 8 West B and Intelsat 34 telecommunications satellites, the French Guiana launch site's infrastructure, and the downrange tracking station network.
All is ready for Ariane 5's rollout tomorrow from the Spaceport's Final Assembly Building to the ELA-3 launch zone for a Thursday liftoff on a flight of just under 42 minutes from the South American liftoff to deployment of its two satellites into geostationary transfer orbit. The upcoming mission for two long-time Arianespace customers—Eutelsat and Intelsat—carries the designation Flight VA225 to signify the 225th launch of an Ariane-series vehicle.
EUTELSAT 8 West B is positioned as the upper passenger on Ariane 5, and will be released first during the flight. This 5.8-metric-ton-class relay platform was manufactured by Thales Alenia Space, and is designed to bring powerful new satellite broadcasting resources to the Middle East and North Africa, primarily to serve direct-to-home markets. It also will introduce a C-band mission to the 8 degrees West orbital slot, covering the African continent and reaching to South America.
Riding as Ariane 5's lower passenger is the 3.3-metric-ton Intelsat 34, which will be used by Intelsat for the media distribution requirements of leading programmers for Latin America. This Space Systems Loral-built (SSL) relay platform also will support advanced broadband coverage for maritime and aeronautical providers serving the North Atlantic. Intelsat 34 will operate from an orbital slot of 304.5 degrees East.