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Satnews Daily
July 7th, 2014

Arianespace, RUAG Space, O3b Networks + European Space Agency—A Fairing Engagement, A Cluster Confab + Lemaître Integration (Business + Launch Preparations)

[SatNews] RUAG Space has won a major payload fairing contract from Arianespace—the contract covers the provision of Ariane 5 payload fairings through 2019 and is worth more than 100 million Swiss francs.

The payload fairing, mounted on the nose of the launch vehicle, protects satellites on the launch pad and during the initial trajectory through the Earth's atmosphere. RUAG Space is the world’s leading supplier of payload fairings made of composite materials. In addition to Ariane 5, Europe’s small launcher, Vega, and the American launcher, Atlas V-500, also use fairings supplied by RUAG Space. RUAG Space has partnered the European launcher program since inception. Starting with the first liftoff in December of 1979, all 217 Ariane rockets launched to date have featured RUAG fairings. “Payload fairings are an important source of revenue for RUAG Space, which is why this contract is so vital," said Holger Wentscher, Senior Vice President of RUAG Space Switzerland,. "Today’s contract marks a major milestone in a successful partnership that stretches back 35 years."

Arianespace Chairman and CEO Stéphane Israël said, "Since the first Ariane launch, the equipment provided by RUAG Space has enabled us to successfully orbit hundreds of satellites. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate RUAG and the Swiss space industry, which has always offered cutting-edge innovative solutions. With this latest order, we have now secured our supply of fairings for the Ariane 5 ECA launcher through 2019. For all of our customers, the quality and reliability of these fairings mean that the RUAG name is synonymous with excellence."

The next satellite cluster for O3b Networks’ affordable, high-speed connectivity system has been mated to its Fregat upper stage in French Guiana, marking one of the final steps in Arianespace’s Soyuz launch campaign for a liftoff next week from the Spaceport.

The mating of O3b Networks’ four satellites to the Fregat upper stage is shown in this series of photos, beginning with its hoisting inside the Spaceport’s S3B payload preparation facility, and their positioning atop Fregat – which is covered by gold-colored thermal insulation.

Photos are courtesy of Arianespace.

During operations in the Spaceport’s S3B payload preparation facility, the four satellites, which previously were integrated on their tube-shaped dispenser system, have been mated atop Soyuz’ Fregat upper stage. The highly flexible Fregat stage will perform multiple burns during Arianespace’s July 10 flight, deploying the spacecraft into orbit. This mating operation with Fregat is followed by Soyuz’ subsequent rollout to the ELS launch complex near the French Guiana town of Sinnamary, allowing the satellite payload to be installed on the medium-lift workhorse launcher.

The July 10 mission, designated Flight VS08 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system, will be the eighth with Soyuz since the vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport—joining the company’s heavy-lift Ariane 5 and lightweight Vega. Flight VS08 will be the second Arianespace mission at the service of O3b Networks, following the orbiting of its initial four satellites with Soyuz in June 2013.

O3b Networks’ Ka-band relay platforms will create a satellite constellation for telecommunications and Internet services that combine high speed and affordable costs for billions of people across the world who do not yet have adequate internet access.  Thales Alenia Space produced the spacecraft, which have a liftoff mass of approximately 700kg. each.

Additionally, Europe’s fifth, and final, Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) has now been integrated with its Ariane 5 launcher, enabling final cargo loading in preparation for Arianespace’s July 24 mission from French Guiana.

The latest preparations for Arianespace Flight VA219 are captured in the photos above, beginning with ATV Georges Lemaître’s integration on its heavy-lift Ariane 5 launcher inside the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building (shown at left). At right, the ATV’s final cargo is loaded this week by a team member, using a hoist system through the spacecraft’s top hatch.

Photos are courtesy of Arianespace.

The Automated Transfer Vehicle is named after Belgian physicist and father of the Big Bang theory, Georges Lemaître, and it will deliver fuel, air and more than 2,600kg. of dry cargo to the International Space Station. In addition, this ATV resupply spacecraft will perform maneuvers to maintain the facility’s nominal orbit, as well as test new rendezvous sensors in space.

The ATV program—managed by the European Space Agency (ESA)—is part of Europe’s contribution to the International Space Station’s operation.  Prime contractor is Airbus Defence and Space, which also is the industrial architect for Ariane 5. All ATVs have been orbited by Ariane 5 launchers, starting with “Jules Verne” in March 2008, which was followed by “Johannes Kepler” in February 2011, “Edoardo Amaldi” in March 2012, and last June’s flight with “Albert Einstein.”

Arianespace’s latest ATV mission in support of International Space Station operations is designated Flight VA219 in the company’s numbering system, and will use an Ariane 5 ES version of the heavy-lift workhorse.

Follow Arianespace's launch activity at http://www.arianespace.com/.