Ariane Celebrates 50th Consecutive Successful Launch
August 3, 2012

Ariane Celebrates 50th Consecutive Successful Launch

[ Watch the Video: Ariane 5's 50th Successful Launch ]

Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

An Ariane 5 rocket launch from the European Space Agency´s (ESA) spaceport in French Guiana on August 2nd marks the 50th successful launch since Ariane rocket lift-offs began in 2003. The latest launch performed a dual deployment of two telecommunications satellites: Intelsat 20 and Hylas-2. The launch marks Ariane 5´s fourth launch of 2012.

The lift-off of flight VA208 took place at 10:54 p.m. (CEST) on August 2nd (5:54 p.m. French Guiana time). Including the payload, the 165-foot-tall Ariane 5 had a total lift-off mass of 858 tons. The satellites, once placed in a transfer orbit, will use their own thrusters to circularize their orbits to attain geostationary orbits, keeping them inline with Earth´s rotation, causing them to remain in fixed positions in the sky.

Weighing roughly 6.6 tons, Intelsat 20 was built for Intelsat by US-based Space Systems/Loral. Intelsat 20 will be positioned at 68.5 degrees East -- above the Indian Ocean. It will replace Intelsat 7 and 10, and will provide video, telephone and data transmission services for Europe, Africa, Russia and the Middle East.

Hylas-2, weighing about 3.6 tons, was built for Avanti Communications by US-based Orbital Sciences Corp. Positioned at 33.5 degrees West -- above the Atlantic Ocean -- it will employ high-bandwidth Ka-band to provide broadband Internet and two-way data services across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

The combined satellite weight of 10.2 tons is a performance record for Ariane 5. The rocket achieved geostationary transfer orbit at 25 minutes and 25 seconds after launch, with Intelsat separating from the upper stage at 28 minutes and 1 second, and Hylas-2 at 34 minutes and 17 seconds.