Preparations for the initial two Ariane 5 flights of 2008 are in full swing at Europe’s Spaceport as Arianespace continues to demonstrate its ability to provide launch capacity and mission flexibility that meet customers’ needs. The two vehicles currently being readied at the Spaceport are an Ariane 5 ECA for an April liftoff with a pair of commercial telecommunications satellites, and the Ariane 5 ES for Arianespace’s historic March 8 launch with the International Space Station’s Automated Transfer Vehicle resupply spacecraft. For the April mission, initial build-up of its Ariane 5 is nearing completion inside the Launcher Integration Building, where the cryogenic core stage has been mated with its two solid rocket boosters, and the cryogenic upper stage also has been installed. This heavy-lift Ariane 5 is scheduled for liftoff during the first half of April, and will carry Star One C2 for Brazilian operator Star One, along with a second telecom platform on another of Arianespace’s trademark dual-payload missions. Star One C2 arrived in French Guiana earlier this week aboard an Antonov An-124 cargo aircraft, and is now undergoing initial pre-launch checkout in one of the Spaceport’s clean rooms.
The Star One C2 satellite for Arianespace’s second Ariane 5 mission in 2008 is unloaded from its protective shipping container at the Spaceport (left-hand photo). In the right-hand image, the cryogenic upper stage for this mission’s Ariane 5 is hoisted inside the Launcher Assembly for installation atop the heavy-lift vehicle, which is partly visible in the background.
The Star One C2 satellite was built by Thales Alenia Space and carries a mixed C-, Ku- and X-band transponders relay payload. It will handle both direct TV broadcasts for South America and international and domestic long-distance telephony for Brazil and Mexico.
As the Ariane 5 ECA mission preparations move ahead, final steps are being completed for Arianespace’s March 8 mission with the European-built Automated Transfer Vehicle. The launch vehicle for this flight is in the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building, where integration of the Ariane 5 ES is complete and the last series of verifications are being performed. (See our Mission Update from February 26 for details on this Ariane 5 flight)http://www.arianespace.com/site/news/news_sub_missionupdate_index.html.
The European-built ATV resupply spacecraft will deliver propellant, oxygen, equipment, systems, food and water for the International Space Station and its crew, and is the first of nine ATV missions currently on Arianespace’s order book for launch during the next several years to the manned orbital facility.
Arianespace’s two upcoming flights in March and April are the first of seven Ariane 5 missions planned in 2008. Subsequent launches during the year will orbit the Herschel and Planck scientific payloads, as well as TerreStar 1 – the largest geostationary commercial communications satellite ever built.
In parallel, Arianespace’s Starsem affiliate has set April 26 for a Soyuz launch from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome with Giove-B, the second demonstration satellite for Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation constellation.
Pictures provided and copyrighted by Arianespace, CNES, ESA
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