After successfully launching a pair of communications satellites into orbit last week, Arianespace (News - Alert) has started preparing for two launches in July from French Guyana and Baikonur Cosmodrome respectively.
On Friday, May 20, an Ariane 5 left French Guyana and put the ST-2 and GSAT-8 satellites into orbit. ST-2 is a joint venture of SingTel (News - Alert) and Chunghwa Telecom Company and will deliver a range of services in Asia and the Middle East, including IP-based fixed and mobile, voice and data. The Mitsubishi (News - Alert) Electric-built satellite supports Ku and C-band operations.
GSAT-8 is the 14th Indian satellite put into orbit by Ariane family vehicles over the launch vehicle's 30 year history. Built by the Indian Space Research Organization, the satellite has 24 Ku-band transponders and a GAGAN GPS-augmentation payload for aircraft navigation use within Indian airspace. GSAT-8 will primarily provide direct-to-home T V broadcast services across the Indian subcontinent.
Last Friday's launch marked the 44th consecutive successful Ariane 5 flight and a total of nine Ariene 5 flights in the last twelve calendar months. It also marked the 202nd liftoff of an Ariane family vehicle since operations began in 1979.
Three more Ariane 5 missions are planned in 2011, with the next launch targeted in early July. The first passenger of the dual-satellite launch, ASTRA 1N, has arrived at the spaceport and is being prepped for launch. ASTRA 1N is based on Astrium's Eurostar E3000 platform and is equipped with a whopping 62 Ku-Band transponders. At launch, ASTRA 1N will be initially positioned at 28.8 degrees East to provide service, then later moved to its primary position at 19.2 degrees east for primary and backup services.
BSAT 3c/JCSAT 110R is the second passenger on the next Ariane 5 flight. Operated by B-SAT and SKY Perfect JSAT, it will go into a geosynchronous slot at 110 degrees east to provide direct TV broadcast and telecommunications services to Japan and Asia.
Later in July, an Arianespace-purchased Soyuz mission from Baikonur Cosmodrome will put six Globalstar (News - Alert) satellites into orbit. The launch, second in putting up the second-generation constellation for Globalstar, had been previously schedule for mid-May, but manufacturer Thales (News - Alert) Alenia Space delayed the launch to perform additional technical checks due to some quality process concerns.
Ultimately, Arianespace will be launching the Russian-made Soyuz from its French Guyana spaceport. A pair of Galileo global navigation satellites will be launched from French Guyana on October 20, 2011 if all goes as planned.
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Doug Mohney is a contributing editor for TMCnet and a 20-year veteran of the ICT space. To read more of his articles, please visit columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell