Telecommunications satellites for two key Arianespace customers were launched last night on the company’s fifth Ariane 5 flight of 2011.
Delivering a total payload lift performance of approximately 8,975 kg., the mission lofted Arabsat-5C for the Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat) and SES-2, which will be utilised by Europe’s SES.
Arabsat-5C was deployed first, separating from Ariane 5 at 27 minutes after liftoff, followed eight minutes later by SES-2.
“Arabsat decided several years ago to entrust us with the launch of all its satellites, and the successful orbiting of this eighth satellite demonstrates that my friend, Khalid Balkheyour, Arabsat’s president and CEO, was right to place his confidence in us,” said Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall. “Because of his wise choice, Arabsat has become one of the world’s leading operators – and I congratulate it for this superb success.”
Once positioned at Arabsat’s 20 degrees East orbital location, Arabsat-5C will deliver capacity in both the C- and Ka-bands for a range of communications services. The spacecraft was manufactured in a joint effort by Europe’s EADS Astrium and Thales Alenia Space.
The SES-2 passenger for the mission was the 35th SES satellite launched by an Ariane vehicle, and is equipped with 24 C-band and 24 Ku-band transponders. It will replace SES’ AMC-3 spacecraft at 87 degrees West, providing coverage for North America and the Caribbean. Also integrated aboard SES-2 is the Commercially Hosted Infrared Payload (CHIRP) sensor for the U.S. Air Force – which integrates a wide-field of view sensor for testing by the military service.
“We are particularly proud of the loyalty that SES has demonstrated since more than 20 years, and I wish to particularly thank Tip Osterthaler, the president and CEO of SES WORLD SKIES U.S. Government Solutions,” Le Gall said. “I also want to thank our friends at the U.S. Air Force, because together, we have opened a new chapter for the space industry tonight in launching CHIRP on SES-2 as the initial military payload on a civilian satellite. Arianespace is honoured to once again be part of a world’s first!”
The next Ariane 5 flight is planned for early 2012, performing its third mission to loft a European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) for servicing of the International Space Station.