Final payload integration is underway for Arianespace's next heavy-lift flight, with the INSAT-3D weather satellite now integrated atop its Ariane 5 launcher at the Spaceport in French Guiana.
This Indian spacecraft is installed in the lower payload position for Ariane 5's dual-passenger mission, which is set for liftoff on July 25 along with Europe's Alphasat telecommunications relay platform.
INSAT-3D's mating occurred in the upper levels of the Spaceport's Final Assembly Building for Ariane 5. The satellite is adapted from India's I-2K spacecraft bus and has a liftoff mass of approximately 2,100 kg. It was developed by the country's Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) space agency with its ISRO Space Applications Centre.
Carrying a six-channel imager and 19-channel sounder, INSAT-3D will provide enhanced meteorological observation and the monitoring of land/ocean surfaces. The satellite also carries a data relay transponder, as well as a system to assist in satellite-aided search and rescue operations.
INSAT-3D's co-passenger for the upcoming Ariane 5 flight is the 6,650-kg. Alphasat satellite, which is one of the most sophisticated commercial communications spacecraft ever built. Developed by Astrium, it is configured with an advanced, new-generation L-band geo-mobile communications relay system to augment Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) service provided by the U.K.-based telecommunications operator Inmarsat - enabling increased-capacity communications across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Alphasat is the result of a large-scale public-private partnership involving Inmarsat and the European Space Agency (ESA), and represents the first flight model of Europe's new Alphabus high capacity satellite platform. It will ride in the upper position of Ariane 5's payload "stack."
The July 25 mission with Ariane 5 - designated Flight VA214 in its launcher family numbering system - will be Arianespace's third heavy-lift launch in 2013 from the Spaceport. In addition, Arianespace has conducted one mission each at French Guiana of the medium-lift Soyuz and lightweight Vega members of its launcher family. Complementing the activity in the first half of 2013 was a Soyuz flight from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome, performed by the Starsem affiliate of Arianespace.