Press Release

Arianespace Flight 144: Ariane 4 boosts Eutelsat’s Atlantic BirdTM 2

By SpaceRef Editor
September 25, 2001
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Arianespace successfully conducted its second mission in 25 days, using an
Ariane 4 nighttime launch to place Atlantic BirdTM 2 into geostationary
transfer orbit for Eutelsat.

Flight 144’s liftoff initially was delayed by a telemetry problem at the
Spaceport, which was resolved within the 57-minute launch window. Ignition
of the Ariane 4’s first stage engines occurred at 8:21 p.m. local French
Guiana time, and the launcher quickly climbed into the night skies over the
Spaceport.

Separation of the four solid strap-on boosters was clearly visible on the
Webcast live carried by www.arianespace.com, as were the first stage’s
shutdown and the ignition of the second stage.

The Alcatel Space-built Atlantic BirdTM 2 satellite is a key element of
Eutelsat’s global service expansion, and the spacecraft will provide relay
capacity from the Americas to Europe and beyond, utilizing the
telecommunication operator’s Atlantic Gate orbital slot at 8 deg. West.

Flight 144 used an Ariane 44P version of the Ariane 4 family, equipped with
the four solid propellant strap-on boosters for augmented thrust during the
initial ascent phase. The mission was the 15th – and final – flight of an
Ariane 44P in the Ariane 4 family’s operational career. It also marked the
106th launch of an Ariane 4 – and the vehicle’s 64th consecutive success.

Atlantic BirdTM 2 weighed approximately 3,150 kg. at liftoff and carries 26
transponders. The satellite was built using an Alcatel Space Spacebus 3000B2
spacecraft platform.

Eutelsat Commercial Director Volker Steiner (photo at right) thanked
Arianespace for today’s successful launch, and noted that Atlantic BirdTM 2
will cover four continents, reaching North and South America, Europe, and
countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

Steiner’s excitement of the highly accurate mission was shared by
Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Marie Luton, who underscored the company’s
pleasure in delivering the 15th successful Ariane launch for Eutelsat. “We
are proud to have participated in the opening of an important bridge to the
Americas for Eutelsat, and we wish a long life to Atlantic BirdTM 2,” he
added.

Luton announced that Arianespace’s next flight is set for November 27, when
another Ariane 4 will orbit the DirectTV-4S satellite for U.S. operator,
DirectTV.

The return-to-flight program for Arianespace’s Ariane 5 heavy-lift launcher
is moving ahead in full accordance with the action plan, Luton said. More
than 60 ignition tests of the Aestus upper stage engine have been performed
on a test rig in Germany, and the data will be used in determining the new
ignition sequence.

Modifications of the Aestus engine test rig will be made to validate flight
conditions during the ground-based static firings. To allow these
modifications to be carried out, and to provide time for the upper stage’s
qualification, the Ariane 5’s next flight is now targeted for January 2002,
Luton said.

“Our goal is to ensure a return to flight for Ariane 5 at the high quality
level that our customers expect from Arianespace,” Luton said. “I can assure
you we will make no concessions on this subject.”

SpaceRef staff editor.