Press Release

Ariane 5 ECA enters the record books again with a heavyweight performance

By SpaceRef Editor
November 17, 2005
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Ariane 5 ECA enters the record books again with a heavyweight performance

Arianespace’s successful Ariane 5 ECA mission tonight marked a new record for commercial launchers, lofting a heavyweight dual satellite payload weighing more than 8,000 kg.

Lifting off from the ELA-3 launch complex at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, the Ariane 5 ECA deployed DIRECTV’s Spaceway 2 satellite and the Telkom 2 relay platform for Indonesia’s PT. Telekomunikasi Indonesia, Tbk.

It marked the 20th successful launch of an Ariane 5, and this flight demonstrated the lift capability of Arianespace’s Ariane 5 ECA version – which has a payload capacity of nearly 10,000 kg. on missions to geostationary transfer orbit.

The mission’s performance also was another on-target example of Ariane 5’s delivery accuracy. Provisional orbital parameters at injection of the launcher’s ESC-A cryogenic upper stage were:

Perigee: 249.7 km. for a target of 249.6 km. (±3)

Apogee: 35,912 km. for a target of 35,917 km. (±160)

Inclination: 6.98 degrees for a target of 7.00 degrees (±0.06º)

In comments after the launch, CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall thanked DIRECTV and PT. Telekomunikasi Indonesia for their confidence in Arianespace. He also expressed his gratitude to the launch and support teams from Arianespace, the European Space Agency, the CNES French space agency and the Ariane 5 industrial network for their efforts in making this historic mission a success.

Back-to-back successes for Arianespace’s launcher family

The Ariane 5 ECA made an on-time departure from Europe’s Spaceport at 8:46 p.m. (local time in French Guiana), climbing away from the launch pad under the power of its cryogenic core stage and two solid rocket boosters. Spaceway 2 was injected into a geostationary transfer orbit at approximately 27 minutes into the flight, followed six minutes later by the release of Telkom-2.

Spaceway 2, which had a mass at liftoff of 6,116 kg., will allow DIRECTV to bring local high-definition programming to most of the U.S. population, as well as expand its standard-definition local offerings. The Boeing-built BS 702-2000 spacecraft will operate at an orbital position of 99.2 deg. West.

The Telkom 2 relay platform carried by Ariane 5 is an Orbital Sciences Corporation STAR 2 spacecraft platform, and it will be used by Indonesia’s PT. Telekomunikasi Indonesia to expand its satellite communications coverage area into the ASEAN region and the Indian subcontinent. Telkom 2 will be placed at an orbital slot of 18 deg. East.

This Ariane 5 ECA launch followed a successful mission performed November 9 by Arianespace affiliate company Starsem, which used a Soyuz vehicle to place the Venus Express spacecraft on a trajectory to encounter Earth’s closest neighboring planet in 2006. The launch was performed from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

“Tonight’s record-setting Ariane 5 flight – which comes after last week’s successful Soyuz launch with Venus Express – demonstrates the mission diversity offered by Arianespace’s growing family of launch vehicles, as well as the quality of its operational teams,” Le Gall said.

Le Gall announced that Arianespace’s next mission will be in the second half of December, using an Ariane 5 Generic launcher to orbit the Insat 4A satellite for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the MSG-2 weather platform for EUMETSAT (the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites).

It will be followed by a December 26 Soyuz launch, conducted by Starsem from Baikonur Cosmodrome, with the first of two in-orbit validation spacecraft for Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system.

The mission today marked another entry in space launch history for Ariane 5. In August, an Ariane 5 Generic vehicle carried the heaviest single commercial satellite ever delivered to geosynchronous orbit when it lofted the 6,485 kg. THAICOM 4 (IPSTAR) for Shin Satellite Plc of Thailand.

SpaceRef staff editor.