The new workhorse of the European Space Agency is ready for it's fourth mission of the year on Friday, carrying two media satellites into geostationary orbit.
The launch of an Arianespace Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket is set to depart it's Atlantic Ocean launch pad in Kourou, South America at the opening of a one hour launch window at 6:09 pm EDT.
On board the 193-foot Ariane 5-ECA will be two major communications satellites for Australia and Japan -- Optus D3 and JCSat 12 -- respectively.
The Optus D3 satellite will serve to broadcast television and communications via 32 KU-Band antennas to Australia and New Zealand at an orbital position of 156 degrees East. It is expected to serve it's southern pacific comunity for 15 years.
Japan's JCSat 12 -- which will ride in the top section of the Ariane's payload fairing --carries thirty KU-Band and 12 C-Band transponders and will serve as a back-up comsat.
An Ariane 5 launch is different than most as it leaves the launch pad. At T-0 (6:09 pm), the core main stage Vulcain 2 engine ignites and is brought up to 100% thrust. This huge engine will burn for 650 seconds of the flight. Seven seconds later, the rocket's twin solid rocket boosters are ignited and allowing for lift off from Pad 3.
Two minutes, twenty seconds after core engine ignition, the twin boosters will then separate at an altitude of 229,650 feet. One minute later, as the rocket enters a lesser atmosphere, the white payload cover is then jettisoned as it speeds through 397,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean.
The first to be deployed will be JCSat at T+26m:52s into the ascent profile. The Sylda 5 will then be ejected at T+32m:51s, and this will be followed by the release of the Australian satellite 90 seconds later, thus concluding Ariane flight 548.
This will be the 190th Ariane mission for the European Space Agency, and the 46th Ariane 5 launch since it's madien flight in June 1996.
SpaceLaunchNews.com will provide LIVE launch TV of the flight beginning Friday at 5:45 pm EDT. Also, follow our Twitter feed for LIVE mobile updates,