ASTRA 5B—which Arianespace will launch for Luxembourg-based operator SES—was delivered by an An-124 cargo aircraft to the Félix Eboué Airport near Cayenne this week, approximately one month prior to its targeted December 6 liftoff date with co-passenger Amazonas 4A.
The Astrium-produced spacecraft’s specialized shipping container was unloaded—aided by the aircraft’s “kneeling” capability—and then prepared for road transport to the Spaceport, which is located some 65 kilometers away in Kourou.
ASTRA 5B will extend SES’ transponder capacity and geographical reach over Eastern Europe and neighboring markets, delivering Direct-To-Home (DTH), Direct-To-Cable (DTC) and contribution feeds to digital terrestrial television networks. It also carries a hosted L-band payload for the European Commission’s European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS).
As the upper passenger for Arianespace’s next heavy-lift mission, ASTRA 5B’s estimated liftoff mass is 5,800kg., and it will operate from an orbital position of 31.5 degrees East.
With a launch mass of 3,000kg., Amazonas 4A will join ASTRA 5B on Arianespace Flight VA216 in the lower position of the “payload stack.” This spacecraft, to be located at an orbital position of 61 degrees West, will provide enhanced relay capacity over Latin America and an extended range of communications and television services for operator HISPASAT.
Designated VA216 in the company’s numbering system, this liftoff represents the 216th flight of an Ariane-series vehicle, as well as the fifth heavy-lift launch this year. On its four 2013 missions to date, Ariane 5 has successfully orbited seven payloads with a combined total payload lift performance of more than 50,000kg.