Ariane Celebrates 50th Consecutive Successful Launch
[ Watch the Video: Ariane 5's 50th Successful Launch ]
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – 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.