Wednesday, July 01, 2009

ESA Ariane V Boosts Largest Communications Satellite

Ariane V lifts-off today at 1:52 pm EDT. (Images Arianespace)

A European Space Agency Ariane V heavy-lift booster rocketed off its South America launch pad this afternoon carrying the largest commercial satellite which will allow cellular PDA phones satellite voice across America and Canada.

Lift-off of Ariane's 31st consecutive successful launch occurred at 1:52 pm EDT, with only ten minutes left in the two hour launch window due to a weather hold and a ground issue. This 189th Ariane mission launched from it's French Guiana launch pad under cloudy skies.

As the clock reached zero, the core center liquid fueled engine ignited and came up to 100% thrust. At T+7.5 seconds, the Ariane broke free of earth's gravity and headed out over the central Atlantic Ocean.

Two minutes, twenty seconds into the launch profile, the Ariane V seperated its twin white soild rocket boosters. The payload fairing later fell off a minute later. The boosters are not recovered, thus not reused unlike NASA's space shuttle.

Ariane V successfully brought a very historic new communications satellite into earth orbit. The 26-foot tall TerreStar-1 satellite works to provide your Palm or PDA cellular phone communications throughout America, Hawaii, Alaska, Canada & Puerto Rico via the satellite's 18 meter reflector antenna. TerreStar will operate in the 2GHz spectrum, according to Loral.

At 2:19 pm EDT, spacecraft separation occurred.
TerreStar was built by Loral Space Systems, and are currently building a second Terrestar satellite. TerreStar-1 will spend the next seven days performing five boost burns to put it in it's proper orbital position in geostationary orbit at 111 degrees W longitude.

"Sometimes it is nerve racking to go through these sorts of launches," stated Arianespace's CEO & Chairman Jean-Yves Le Gall moments after the applause over spacecraft separation. "I'm very happy to share this new success with you. It is our 31st success in a row, it's the third in 2009, and I think it shows us perfectly how high performance and reliability can go hand-in-hand."

ESA's next Ariane V launch is planned for mid-August and will deliver two satellites into orbit for Japan and Australia.

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