Press Release

Liftoff of the Ariane 5 ECA is set for Today

By SpaceRef Editor
November 16, 2005
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Liftoff of the  Ariane 5 ECA is set for Today

Arianespace’s Ariane 5 ECA returned to the launch zone at Europe’s Spaceport, allowing the final countdown to resume for a liftoff tonight with a heavyweight dual satellite payload.

Ariane 5 rolled out of the final assembly building at 10:30 a.m. yesterday and completed its 2.8-km. transfer to the ELA-3 launch zone in 60 minutes. The vehicle rode atop its massive launch table, which is now locked in place over large flame ducts for the vehicle’s two solid rocket motors and its core stage Vulcain cryogenic main engine.

Liftoff of the Ariane 5 ECA with its Spaceway 2 and Telkom 2 spacecraft is set for a 45-minute launch window that opens at 8:46 p.m. (23h46 GMT; 7:46 p.m. in Washington, D.C.; and 00:46 a.m. on November 17 in Paris, France).

The mission’s Boeing-built Spaceway 2 satellite will enable U.S. operator DIRECTV to bring local high-definition programming to most of the American population, as well as expand its standard-definition local offerings.

The Telkom 2 relay platform to be lofted by Ariane 5 is an Orbital Sciences Corporation STAR 2 spacecraft platform, and it will be used by Indonesia’s PT Telkom to expand its satellite communications coverage area into the ASEAN region and the Indian subcontinent.

This launch originally had been set for November 12, but was postponed hours before the scheduled liftoff to resolve minor problems involving the mobile launch table. As a result, the table and its Ariane 5 were moved from the ELA-3 launch zone back into the final assembly building, where the repairs were made.

This flight will demonstrate the Ariane 5 ECA’s heavy-lift capability, as the combined mass of its two payloads totals more than 8,000 kg.

With a payload capacity of nearly 10,000 kg. on missions to geostationary transfer orbit, Ariane 5 is the only commercial vehicle that can launch two mainstream telecommunications satellite payloads on the same flight.

SpaceRef staff editor.