Press Release

5 for 5 for Ariane 5 in 2006 – Successful launch of WildBlue-1 and AMC-18

By SpaceRef Editor
December 8, 2006
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5 for 5 for Ariane 5 in 2006 – Successful launch of WildBlue-1 and AMC-18

On Friday evening, December 8, Arianespace placed two satellites into geostationary transfer orbit for two private American operators: WildBlue-1 for WildBlue Communications and AMC-18 for SES AMERICOM.

30th Ariane 5 launch, 16th success in a row

The latest successful launch of an Ariane 5, the fifth in 2006, confirms that Arianespace sets the global standard for launch services, with solutions meeting the needs of both private and governmental operators around the world.

Over the last 12 months, Arianespace has orbited 12 communications satellites, plus an experimental payload.

Today, Ariane 5 is the only commercial launcher in service capable of simultaneously launching two payloads.

Launches for two prestigious American customers

Arianespace’s selection by both the leading satcom operators in the United States and a new American operator in this sector, is clear recognition of the company’s top-quality launch service.

Colorado-based WildBlue Communications started its Internet service offering by using capacity on Telesat’s Anik F2 satellite, launched by an Ariane 5 in July 2004. With the WildBlue-1 satellite, the company will be able to expand its broadband service offering to consumers and small businesses located in zones where ground-based services do not exist.

AMC-18 is the 25th SES Global (Euronext Paris and Luxembourg Bourse: SESG) satellite to use an Ariane launcher. SES Global is the leading private satellite operator in the world. The AMC-18 satellite will be operated by SES AMERICOM, the largest supplier of satellite services in the United States, which operates a fleet of 18 satellites, and primarily serves the Americas. As part of the SES Global family, SES AMERICOM can provide end-to-end telecommunications solutions anywhere in the world.

WildBlue-1/AMC-18 mission at a glance

The mission was carried out by an Ariane 5 ECA launcher from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Liftoff was on Friday, December 8, at 7:08 pm local time in Kourou (5:08 pm in Washington, DC, 22:08 UT and 11:08 pm in Paris).

Provisional parameters at injection of the cryogenic upper stage (ESC-A) were:

  • Perigee: 249.4 km for a target of 250.0 km (±3)
  • Apogee: 35,922 km for a target of 35,947 km (±160)
  • Inclination: 2.0 degrees for a target of 2.0 degrees (±0.06º)

WildBlue-1 is one of the first satellites to be totally dedicated to broadband Internet services. Built by Space Systems/Loral in Palo Alto, California, WildBlue-1 weighed 4,735 kg at launch. Offering 35 spotbeams, it will enable operator WildBlue Communications to provide broadband Internet access for the contiguous United States – even in the most isolated regions of the country. It will be positioned at 111.1° West.

AMC-18, built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems in Sunnyvale, California using an A2100 platform, weighed 2,081 kg at launch. It is fitted with 24 active high-power C-band transponders and offers a minimum design life of 15 years. AMC-18 will provide cable TV distribution services for the United States from its orbital position at 105° West.

The Ariane 5 launcher fairing bears the inscription “Ciutat de Barcelona”, as part of the Community of Ariane Cities initiative. The city of Barcelona is president of this association in 2006. The Community of Ariane Cities was founded to foster the economic, cultural and educational development of the cities involved directly or indirectly in the European space transportation program.

SpaceRef staff editor.