Payload preparations for Arianespace's year-opening Ariane 5 mission are in full swing, with this upcoming flight's two telecommunications relay platforms - Amazonas 3 and Azerspace/Africasat-1a - undergoing their checkout procedures at the Spaceport.
The Amazonas 3 spacecraft began its pre-launch activity inside the Spaceport's S1B clean room facility, following an arrival in French Guiana earlier this month aboard a chartered cargo jetliner.
Amazonas 3 will have a liftoff mass of 6.2 metric tons, and carries Ka-, Ku- and C-band transponders for telecommunications services across the Americas, along with Europe and North Africa. Its Ka-band payload positions the HISPASAT Group as Latin America's first operator capable of offering interactive services and multimedia applications via satellite to a large number of users.
The spacecraft was built by Space Systems/Loral in Palo Alto, California, based on the company's 1300-series platform. To be positioned at an orbital location of 61 deg. West, it will deliver services that include direct-to-home television, corporate fixed and mobile telephone networks and broadband.
Amazonas 3 will be orbited on Ariane 5's February 7 mission along with the Azerspace/Africasat-1a spacecraft, which continues its own preparation activity at the Spaceport. Built by Orbital Sciences Corporation under contract to the Republic of Azerbaijan's Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies, Azerspace/Africasat-1a will weigh approximately 3,250 kg. at liftoff, and is to deliver communications services to Azerbaijan, Central Asia, Europe and Africa from an orbital location of 46 deg. East.
This upcoming mission will be the 68th flight of Arianespace's Ariane 5 from French Guiana, and it is to kick off the company's 2013 launch activity with its heavy-lift workhorse.
A total of six Ariane 5 flights are scheduled from the Spaceport this year, along with four medium-lift Soyuz launches and one with the light-lift Vega. In addition, Arianespace will orbit the final batch of six satellites for Globalstar's second-generation constellation on a Soyuz mission from Baikonur Cosmodrome, to be operated by the company's Starsem affiliate on February 4.