[Satnews] Arianespace's dual-payload mission with telecommunications satellites to serve Australia and Argentina has been approved for liftoff on Wednesday at the Spaceport, providing the go-ahead for its fifth heavy-lift flight in 2015 and the ninth overall from French Guiana this year using the company's complete launcher family.
The September 30 liftoff was authorized at completion of the launch readiness review, which confirmed the status of Ariane 5, its Sky Muster and ARSAT-2 spacecraft passengers, the Spaceport's infrastructure, and a network of ground stations that will track the launcher's trajectory. With the go-ahead, Ariane 5 will be transferred from the Spaceport's Final Assembly Building to the ELA-3 launch zone, where the vehicle will be positioned for liftoff on September 30 during a launch window that opens at 5:30 p.m. and continues until 7:15 p.m. (local time in French Guiana).
The mission is designated Flight VA226 in Arianespace's launcher family numbering system, notating the 226th Ariane launch since this series of European-built vehicles began operation in 1979. Wednesday's mission will be the 82nd launch of an Ariane 5 from French Guiana, where the vehicle is operated alongside Arianespace's medium-lift Soyuz and lightweight Vega.
As part of Flight VA226's final activity, members of the Sky Muster and ARSAT-2 teams signed spacecraft logos that are affixed to Ariane 5's protective payload fairing. This step "personalized" the launcher in recognition of the efforts that have prepared these two payloads for the ride into orbit and their subsequent service startup.
Located in Ariane 5's upper passenger position is Sky Muster, which will deliver broadband services from geostationary orbit to more than 200,000 rural and remote Australians, providing coverage across the country—including the Norfolk, Christmas, Macquarie and Cocos islands.
As the initial satellite to be orbited by Arianespace for nbn™, Sky Muster has an estimated liftoff mass of 6,440 kg. and was built by SSL (Space Systems Loral). nbn is owned by the Commonwealth of Australia and the company's objective is to ensure all Australians have access to fast broadband as soon as possible, at affordable prices and at the least cost to taxpayers.
ARSAT-2 is installed in the lower payload position on Ariane 5. This satellite was built under the responsibility Argentina's INVAP and will be operated by the state-owned Argentinian operator ARSAT to provide DTH, Internet access services for reception on VSAT antennas, along with data transmission and IP telephony. ARSAT-2 has a liftoff mass of approximately 2,975 kg.
The Spaceport's ability to conduct two parallel Ariane 5 launch campaigns is being demonstrated again as a new heavy-lift launcher takes shape for an Arianespace liftoff from French Guiana in November, which will carry the Arabsat-6B and GSAT-15 telecommunications satellites.
During activity in the Spaceport's Launcher Integration Building, the Ariane 5 for this upcoming mission has undergone the first build-up steps, with the core cryogenic stage positioned over one of two operational launch tables and the mating of two solid propellant boosters. It will be followed by installation of the cryogenic upper stage.
The November mission with Arabsat-6B and GSAT-15 is designated Flight VA227 in Arianespace's numbering system, signifying the 227th launch of an Ariane vehicle since the series of European-built launchers began operation in 1979. Once the Ariane 5 for Flight VA227 completes its build-up and checkout by prime contractor Airbus Safran Launchers, it will be ready for transfer to the Final Assembly Building, where the Arabsat-6B and GSAT-15 passengers will be installed under Arianespace's responsibility.
Both payloads on Flight VA227 in November are for long-time Arianespace customers, continuing the company's relationships with Arab nations and India.
Arabsat-6B is a sixth-generation satellite for Arabsat—the inter-governmental organization founded by the Arab League in 1976. The spacecraft was built in a consortium led by Airbus Defence and Space, supplier of the Eurostar E3000 platform and the satellite's integrator; along with Thales Alenia Space, which designed and built the communications payload.
Weighing in at a liftoff mass estimated at 6,100 kg., Arabsat-6B will provide telecommunications and TV broadcasting services for the Middle East and Africa.
Flight VA227's other payload, GSAT-15, was developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation and will deliver C- and Ku-band telecommunications services. GSAT-15 will have a liftoff mass of approximately 3,150 kg.