Thursday, October 29, 2009

ESA Ariane 5 successfully launches satellites

A heavy-lift European launcher lifted-off today from South America on a flight which delivered two communications satellites into earth orbit -- and making it's sixth successful flight of the year.

The European Space Agency's Ariane 5 rocket launched on it's 48th flight at 4:00:07 pm EDT (5PM local time), from the Guiana Space Center as the Sun sat upon French Guiana.

Burning 1,300 tons of thrust, the Ariane 5 pushed its way up and out over the central Atlantic Ocean punching through a few cloud layers and into a darkening sky. The launch inclination was 5.98 degrees to the equator.

On board the mighty launcher making it's 34th successful launch in a row was the NSS-12 and Thor-6 communications satellites.

"This latest success confirms that Ariane 5 is the commercial market’s only operational launcher capable of simultaneously launching two large direct television broadcast satellites,” stated Arianespace CEO and chairman Jean-Yves Le Gall. “It also confirms that Arianespace is the only launch services company capable of orbiting four commercial satellites in four weeks – which I also think is a new record."

At 4:27 pm EDT, the NSS-12 seperated from the Ariane adapter connected to the upper stage as the vehicle flew over southeastern Africa.

The NSS-12 was built by space systems/Loral in California, and will service a large footprint from Europe to Asia to Australia with direct to home television services. NSS-12 will operate from 57 degrees East in geostationary orbit.

Later, at 4:31 pm, the Thor 6 separated from the upper stage some 1,060 miles above the western Indian Ocean.

The Thor-6 satellite -- the most powerful of the Thor fleet -- will provide television services to Europe using 36 ku-band transponders, and operating from a location at 1 degree East. Thor 6 will replace the failing Thor 3.

The seventh and final Ariane 5 flight of 2009 is currently targeted for December 2, and will loft two communications satellites into earth orbit.

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