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By | November 19, 2007

      Ariane 5 Said To Boost Record Heavy Payload: U.K., Brazilian Satellites

      The Ariane 5 giant rocket set another heavy-lift record by placing a U.K. military relay platform and Brazil’s new multi-mission telecommunications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit, according to Arianspace.

      The total payload delivery weight was 9,535 kg (10.5 tons), which included 8,735 kg (9.6 tons) for the two satellites, along with the associated installation/interface hardware and Ariane’s SYLDA 5 dual payload dispenser system.

      The Ariane 5 lifted off from the European spaceport in French Guiana, South America, and climbed through a deck of broken low clouds over the spaceport.

      Tracking cameras followed the trajectory as the launcher came back into view, clearly showing the jettisoning of Ariane 5’s two solid rocket boosters.

      Skynet 5B was deployed by the launcher approximately 27 minutes into the mission, and Star One C1 was released about six minutes later.

      This was the fifth Ariane 5 dual-satellite launch in 2007, clearing the way for a record sixth flight in December, according to Arianespace.

      "Since the beginning of 2007, 12 large commercial communications satellites have been launched [worldwide], and we launched 10 of them — 83 percent of the total, which also is a record," Jean-Yves Le Gall, Arianespace chairman & CEO, said.

      The mission came just eight months after Ariane 5 lofted Skynet 5A for the British Ministry of Defence, and Le Gall noted as well that Star One C1 continues a more than 20-year relationship with Brazil, pointing out that all seven satellites in the Star One fleet have orbited by Arianespace.

      Skynet 5B was the 28th national security satellite lofted by Arianespace, and the sixth platform in the Skynet series orbited aboard Ariane. This 4,635-kg (5.1 tons) spacecraft was built by Astrium, and will be delivered in orbit to Paradigm Secure Communications. When operational, it will handle secure communications services for the United Kingdom’s armed forces, NATO and other countries. Arianespace’s order backlog includes another Skynet-series spacecraft to be launched, Skynet 5C.

      The 4,100 kg (4.5 tons) Star One C1 passenger on tonight’s Ariane 5 mission was launched by Arianespace for satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space.

      Equipped with C-, Ku- and X-band transponders, it will be utilized by the Star One subsidiary of Embratel to provide communications, multimedia and broadband Internet services for the Latin American market. Another spacecraft, Star One C2, also is to be orbited by Arianespace.

      Le Gall provided details on Aranespace’s two remaining missions in 2007: a Dec. 14 Soyuz launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome for its Starsem affiliate, which will carry the Radarsat 2 satellite; followed several days later by the year-ending Ariane 5 flight with its Rascom 1 and Horizons-2 payloads.

      The December Ariane 5 mission will mark the first time six launches of this workhorse vehicle have been performed in one year. Arianespace is accelerating the pace to accommodate its growing order book, with a stabilized rate of eight Ariane 5 launches annually to be reached by 2009.

      Sirius 4 Launched On Proton/Breeze From Baikonur

      A Sirius 4 communications satellite was launched yesterday from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, satellite builder Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] announced.

      The Proton/Breeze M launch vehicle was provided by International Launch Services (ILS).

      Initial contact with the satellite was confirmed from the Lockheed Martin satellite tracking station in Uralla, Australia.

      That Sirius 4 bird marks the 35th A2100 spacecraft designed and built by Lockheed Martin, according to the company. The spacecraft will be located at orbital location 5 degrees East and is expected to provide more than 15 years of service.

      It will provide distribution of direct-to-home broadcast and interactive services across Scandinavia, Europe and Africa. The satellite features 46 active Ku-band high-power transponders in the BSS and FSS frequency band.

      And it is equipped with an active Ka-band transponder for interactive applications in the Nordic and Baltic regions. The spacecraft is equipped with a sub-Sahara African beam to complement existing coverage of Africa, which is accomplished using six additional active Ku-band FSS transponders. Additionally, there is an interconnect payload that connects Africa and Europe with a second Ka-band transponder.

      Lockheed Martin currently is building AMC-14 for SES AMERICOM, which is scheduled to be launched in the first quarter of 2008. Lockheed Martin successfully launched ASTRA-1L this year for SES ASTRA.

      European Spacecraft To Fly Soon, Japanese Craft In 2009

      The European Automated Transfer Vehicle, or ATV, will fly in January or February, and the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle will fly beginning in July 2009.

      NASA may use these vehicles to transport U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station after the U.S. space shuttle fleet retires Sept. 30, 2010.

      NASA also might hire Russian Soyuz vehicles to provide such taxi service to space, and perhaps might use commercial vehicles as well. (Please see story in this issue.)

      Japan also has an orbiter circling the moon.

      Launch Schedule


      Dec. 6 + STS-122

      STS-122 will deliver the Columbus European Laboratory Module and will be the twenty-fourth mission to the International Space Station.

      Launch Time: 4:31 p.m. EST


      Feb. 14 + STS-123

      Mission STS-123 on Space Shuttle Endeavour will deliver the pressurized section of the Kibo Japanese Experiment Logistics Module (ELM-PS) on the twenty-fifth mission to the International Space Station.

      Launch Time: 11:57 a.m. EST

      April 1 *STSS Demo

      STSS Demo is a midcourse tracking technology demonstrator and is part of an evolving ballistic missile defense system. STSS is capable of tracking objects after boost phase and provides trajectory information to other sensors and interceptors.

      To be launched by NASA for the MDA.

      April 17 *STSS ATRR

      STSS ATRR serves as a pathfinder for future launch and mission technology for the Missile Defense Agency.

      To be launched by NASA for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

      April 21 *GOES-O

      NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are actively engaged in a cooperative program, the multimission Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite series N-P. This series will be a vital contributor to weather, solar and space operations, and science. GOES-O is a NASA/NOAA mission that will launch off a ULA Delta IV launch vehicle from Launch Complex 37.

      April 24 + STS-124

      Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-124 will transport the Kibo Japanese Experiment Module – Pressurized Module (JEM-PM) and the Japanese Remote Manipulator System (JEM RMS) to the International Space Station.

      Launch Time: 8:26 a.m. EDT

      May 29 *GLAST

      An heir to its successful predecessor — the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory — the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope will have the ability to detect gamma rays in a range of energies from thousands to hundreds of billions of times more energetic than the light visible to the human eye. Radiation of such magnitude can only be generated under the most extreme conditions, thus GLAST will focus on studying the most energetic objects and phenomena in the universe.

      June 15 OSTM/Jason 2

      The Ocean Surface Topography Mission on the Jason-2 satellite will be a follow-on to the Jason mission. It will launch on a Delta II launch vehicle from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

      June 15 IBEX

      The Interstellar Boundary Explorer will launch from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll and Wake Island from an Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket.

      June 25 + TacSat-3

      NASA will support the Air Force launch of the TacSat-3 satellite, managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate. TacSat-3 will demonstrate the capability to furnish real-time data to the combatant commander. NASA Ames will fly a microsat and NASA Wallops will fly the CubeSats on this flight in addition to providing the launch range.

      Aug. 7 *STS-125

      Space Shuttle Atlantis will fly seven astronauts into space for the fifth and final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. During the 11-day flight, the crew will repair and improve the observatory’s capabilities through 2013.

      Launch Time: 8:24 a.m. EDT

      Sept. 18 + STS-126

      Mission STS-126 on Space Shuttle Endeavour on assembly flight ULF2, will deliver a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module to the International Space Station.

      Launch Time: 8:08 p.m. EDT

      Oct. 31 LRO/LCROSS

      The mission objectives of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite are to advance the Vision for Space Exploration by confirming the presence or absence of water ice in a permanently shadowed crater at either the Moon’s North or South Pole.

      Dec. 1 *SDO

      The first Space Weather Research Network mission in the Living With a Star (LWS) Program of NASA.

      Dec. 15 OCO

      The Orbiting Carbon Observatory is a new Earth orbiting mission sponsored by NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder Program.


      Feb. 16 Kepler

      The Kepler Mission, a NASA Discovery mission, is specifically designed to survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to detect and characterize hundreds of Earth-size and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone.

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