On May 15, Arianespace (News - Alert) successfully launched a pair of telecommunications satellites for Japan's SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation and the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group. It marks the 48th consecutive successful launch of the Ariane 5 heavy lift vehicle.
Launched from French Guiana, JCSAT-13 and VINSAT-2 were successfully put into geostationary transfer orbits (GTO). Arianespace said the launch marks the delivery of over 300 primary satellite "passengers" into space from the South American spaceport, along with some 50 additional auxiliary or secondary payloads.
SKY Perfect JSAT (News - Alert) has a 23 year relationship with Arianespace, starting in 1989 when JCSAT-1 was put into orbit on an Ariane 4 rocket. JCSAT-13 is to be positioned at 123 degrees East, providing direct TV broadcast services to all of Japan as a replacement satellite for JCSAT-4, as well as providing satellite relay coverage demands in Southeast Asia. At nearly 4,530 kilograms at launch, JCSAT-13 is expected to operate for over 15 years and is equipped with 44 Ku-band transponders and a pair of steerable antennas. Extensive on-board switching enables reconfiguration from orbit for full optimization of the frequency plan.
VINASAT-2 is the second satellite launched by Arianespace for the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group; the first was VINASAT-1 in April 2008. The satellite is equipped with 24 Ku-band transponders to provide radio, TV and telephone links for all of Vietnam. VINASAT-2 will be positioned at 131.8 degrees east and, like JCSAT-13, is also expected to have a lifetime of over 15 years.
Both satellites were built by Lockheed Martin (News - Alert) and mark the 100th and 101sts commercial geostationary communications satellite put into orbit. The two satellites were based on the company's A2100 series
This is the second launch of the Ariane 5 this year. Arianespace's next heavy launch is scheduled for June 19 and will be a dual-payload mission carrying EchoStar XVII and the Meteosat Second Generation-3 (MSG-3) weather satellite. EchoStar XVII was built by Space Systems Loral (News - Alert) for Hughes Network Systems. Based on the SS/L 1300 satellite platform, the satellite uses a multi-spot beam "bent pipe" Ka-band architecture and will provide additional capacity for HughesNet service in North America and augments the SPACEWAY 3 Ka-band satellite.
MSG-3 was built for EUMETSAT by a Thales (News - Alert) Alenia Space-led industry consortium. It will replace Meteorsat-8 and be part of a two satellite constellation to support weather forecasters in Europe and Africa.
Edited by Brooke Neuman