Two telecommunications satellites that will provide expanded relay capacity over areas that include Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and South America were orbited today by Arianespace on the company's sixth Ariane 5 flight of 2012.
Lifting off on time at 6:05 p.m. from the Spaceport's ELA-3 launch complex in French Guiana, the heavy-lift workhorse deployed its EUTELSAT 21B and Star One C3 spacecraft passengers during a 33-minute mission. It was the 66th flight of an Ariane 5 and the 210th launch of a European-built Ariane family vehicle, maintaining Arianespace's sustained mission pace in 2012.
"This continues our series of records with the 52nd consecutive success of our Ariane 5 launcher, which represents a reliability level that is unequaled in our industry and guarantees European access to space for the benefit of our institutional and commercial customers," said Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall.
EUTELSAT 21B was the 26th satellite launched by Arianespace for the European-based Eutelsat telecommunications operator, while Star One C3 marked the ninth Brazilian telecommunications platform that Arianespace has orbited.
The EUTELSAT 21B spacecraft was built by Thales Alenia Space and will offer significantly increased capacity for data, professional video and government services when compared to EUTELSAT 21A relay platform it is to succeed. The new satellite's 40 Ku-band transponders provide improved power and coverage, incorporating an enhanced widebeam for coverage across Europe into North Africa and Central Asia, while also featuring two dedicated high-power beams covering northwest Africa and the Middle East/Central Asia regions.
Star One C3's coverage encompasses Miami and the entire South America region - including the Andean countries of Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela - enabling its Brazilian-based Star One operator, an Embratel company, to expand the capacity and coverage for TV, data and voice transmission services.
Produced by Orbital Sciences Corporation, Star One C3 has 28 C-band and 16 Ku-band transponders, enabling this satellite to replace the Brasilsat B3 satellite currently operating at the 75o W orbital position. In addition, Star One C3's will reach the offshore waters under Brazilian jurisdiction to the pre-salt area, where new oil fields are planned for exploitation.
Today's Ariane 5 flight delivered a total payload lift performance of approximately 9,215 kg., which included 8,250 kg for the two passengers released into geostationary transfer orbit, along with the launcher's dual-payload dispenser system and integration hardware.
"I wish to thank all of those in Europe, as well as in French Guiana, who develop, produce and operate our launcher, and to tell them that today's success is their success, once again enabling us to win the confidence of our customers and to reinforce our position," Le Gall added in his post-launch concluding remarks. "In addition, the new orders we've booked since start of this year are truly remarkable, demonstrating how Ariane is by far - and has been for a long time - the launcher that is preferred by operators worldwide."
Ariane 5 provided another on-target delivery for its two passengers on this evening's launch, with the following estimated orbital parameters at injection of its cryogenic upper stage:
- Perigee: 249.6 km. for a target of 249.4 km.
- Apogee: 35,932 km. for a target of 35,920 km.
- Inclination: 1.99 deg. for a target of 2.00 deg.
Arianespace will continue its busy year of launch activity in 2012, with the next Spaceport mission planned for November 30, using a medium-lift Soyuz to orbit the French Pleiades 1B dual-use, very-high-resolution satellite. This will be the fourth flight of a Soyuz from French Guiana since its introduction at the Spaceport in October 2011.