The Arianespace heavy-lift Ariane 5 mission with telecommunications satellites for two leading Asia-Pacific operators received the ‘green light’ today for its Thursday liftoff from the Spaceport in French Guiana.
Carrying Malaysian-based Measat’s Measat-3b in the upper position under Ariane 5’s fairing and Optus 10 for Australia’s Optus as the lower passenger, this mission further underscores Arianespace’s leadership position in the Asia-Pacific – with the company having launched two-thirds of the region’s commercial geostationary telecommunications satellites since its 1980 founding.
Today’s approval was issued following the launch readiness review, which is held prior to every Ariane 5 mission to confirm the heavy-lift vehicle and its dual-passenger payload are flight-ready, along with verifying Spaceport infrastructure and the downrange tracking system.
With this step in pre-launch preparations complete, Ariane 5 is now cleared for rollout to the launch zone tomorrow – to be followed by Flight VA218’s liftoff on September 11 during an approximately one-hour launch window that opens at 6:21 p.m. local time in French Guiana.
As the third satellite to be launched for Measat by Arianespace, the Airbus Defence and Space-built Measat-3b will provide direct-to-home broadcasting and VSAT (very small aperture terminal) services across Malaysia, India, Indonesia and Australia.
Built by SSL (Space Systems Loral), Optus 10 – the sixth spacecraft the company is lofting for Optus – will offer direct TV broadcast, internet connectivity, telephone and data transmission services for Australia, New Zealand and the Antarctic region.
Thursday’s mission – designated Flight VA218 in the company’s numbering system – will be the fourth Ariane 5 liftoff from the Spaceport this year and the 75th launch of this heavy-lift workhorse, which has performed 60 successful flights in a row.