Arianespace Flight 145: A landmark double success for Europe

Press Release From: Arianespace
Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2002

Kourou, French Guiana, February 28, 2002 -- Arianespace today successfully orbited the largest satellite ever built by Europe, using an Ariane 5 heavy-lift launcher to place the Envisat platform into Sun-synchronous orbit.

The 11th Ariane 5

With this latest successful launch, Ariane 5 has confirmed its technical and operational maturity. Ariane 5 is the only operational launch system capable today of carrying such large, heavy satellites into any type of orbit.

"The success of our eleventh Ariane 5 launch shows this launcher is fully operational," said Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Marie Luton. "The very capable Ariane 5 gives us an even bigger lead over our competitors."

For today's mission, Ariane 5 was equipped with a 17-meter-long version of the launcher's payload fairing. This flight set new records for payload weight (8,200 kg.) and for the height of a satellite (10 meters) installed under the fairing in Kourou.

Envisat is the 24th European Space Agency satellite launched on an Ariane. Arianespace's current launch manifest includes nine ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle) missions for International Space Station servicing on behalf of the European Space Agency, as well as a major new scientific mission: Rosetta, a solar system exploration spacecraft.

Arianespace's upcoming launch

After this third successful launch of the year, Arianespace's next mission is slated for the second half of March. An Ariane 44L will boost two communications satellites into orbit: JCSAT-8 for the Japanese operator JSAT Corporation, and Astra 3A of Boeing Satellite Systems for Luxembourg-based operator SES.

Following today's Ariane 5 mission, Arianespace's backlog now stands at 39 satellites to be launched, plus 9 ATV missions for the International Space Station.

Flight 145 at a glance

Arianespace Flight 145 was carried out by an Ariane 5 from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Liftoff was on February 28, 2002 at 10:07 pm local time in Kourou (8:07 p.m. in Washington, DC, and on March 1 at 01H07 Universal Time, and 2:07 a.m. in Paris).

Ariane 5's first launch into Sun-synchronous orbit

Provisional parameters at injection of the storable propellant upper stage were:

Altitude: 7,152.4 km for a target of 7,152.4 km (± 7.5 km) (semi-major axis)
Orbital position: 69.8 degrees for a target of 70.3 degrees (±1.9¡)
Inclination: 98.5 degrees for a target of 98.5 degrees (±01.1¡)

The Envisat satellite

Envisat is the most powerful satellite ever built by the European Space Agency to monitor the Earth's environment and the impact of human activities on the planet. Day after day, Envisat will transmit an unprecedented stream of environmental data. The data will be combined with information from Europe's ERS-1 and ERS-2 remote sending satellites, enabling scientists and researchers to follow the evolution of environmental phenomena over more than a decade.

A European consortium of 50 companies led by Astrium was responsible for the production of Envisat. Weighing more than 8,200 kg. at launch, it will be positioned at an altitude of 800 kilometers, with each orbit around the Earth taking 100 minutes. For most instruments, the satellite will provide global coverage every three days, with exact revisit coverage every 35 days.

Envisat is the 50th Astrium-built satellite to be orbited by the European Ariane launcher. Ground equipment for Envisat was built by a consortium of 20 companies led by Alcatel Space.

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