Press Release

Arianespace is ready to support the mobile satellite services industry’s future development

By SpaceRef Editor
March 23, 2007
Filed under , ,

Arianespace is committed to supporting the future evolution of the mobile satellite services (MSS) industry, offering reliable access to space on its heavy-lift Ariane 5 and medium-weight Soyuz launch vehicles.

Addressing the Mobile Satellite 2007 conference in London, Arianespace CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall said the increase of Ariane 5 mission capacity to eight launches annually by 2009 will provide significant payload launch opportunities for MSS satellites of various sizes. Ariane 5 is operated from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, with six missions planned in 2007 and seven for 2008.

Arianespace CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall speaks at the Mobile Satellite 2007 official luncheon. “This increase in production capability – coupled with the available performance of the Ariane 5 at about 10 tons and its 5-meter fairing – makes Ariane 5 the vehicle of choice for MSS satellites with their large antennas and high masses,” Le Gall said during his March 20 luncheon speech. “On the lower end of the mass range between 5,500 kg. and 6,000 kg., the MSS satellites remain compatible with our dual launch offering on Ariane 5, hence providing our customers twice the launch opportunities and significant cost savings.”

For smaller MSS satellites, Arianespace also offers launch services with the Soyuz vehicle, operated by its Starsem affiliate. Starsem missions currently are performed from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, and this workhorse medium-lift vehicle will join Ariane 5 in service from the Spaceport in French Guiana.

Le Gall noted Arianespace’s involvement with the mobile satellite services industry started in December 1981 with the launch of the first mobile satellite – Marecs-A for Inmarsat, and has continued successfully through the years with many Ariane missions performed for Inmarsat, as well as six Soyuz flights for Globalstar.

“Our future involvement in the MSS industry will be no different; last year, we signed new agreements to launch the TerreStar-1 spacecraft and two further launches for Globalstar,” Le Gall added. “These contracts continue our long and fruitful partnership with the MSS sector. I thank both TerreStar and Globalstar for their confidence, and look forward to follow-on TerreStar satellites and Globalstar 2.”

A “red flag” on MSS satellites’ North/South station-keeping capabilities

Le Gall used his speaking opportunity at Mobile Satellite 2007 to “raise a red flag” about MSS satellites that are not compatible with the Ariane 5’s dual launch capability. These spacecraft are not equipped with the necessary systems to perform the North/South station-keeping maneuvers that keep them positioned in the equatorial plane in their inclined orbits.

Without such ability to perform the station-keeping maneuvers, the spacecraft need to be launched into a specific orbit and inclination – making them incompatible with the Ariane 5’s standard dual launch orbital parameters.

“For a small additional increase in cost and mass, these satellites can be made compatible with the dual launch, providing MSS operators the full flexibility and availability of Ariane 5 to support their launch and avoid any delays in the deployment of their systems,” Le Gall said.

He added that compatibility with Ariane 5 is not only important from an operational point of view, but also is relevant from the financial perspective. “As some mobile satellite ventures are highly leveraged, the financial community has to pay greater attention to the deployment of these systems and wants to be sure it can rely on the leader of the industry, Arianespace, for the launch of these satellites,” Le Gall stated.

Le Gall pledged the support of Arianespace’s technical teams – which are available to address this issue with MSS operators and the satellite manufacturers, and to highlight the benefits of restoring such dual launch capability for these spacecraft. He noted that Inmarsat’s satellites have always carried the capability of North/South station keeping, and thus have always retained complete compatibility with Ariane.

“As the leader of our industry, Arianespace remains attentive to the needs of the MSS industry and this will continue to be my priorities as we listen to you, understand your requirements, and innovate to facilitate the successful introduction of new applications in the satellite industry,” he concluded. “With both Ariane and Soyuz available for your missions, we can develop together the best solutions for your programs.”

SpaceRef staff editor.