(March 15, 2010) -- Ariane Flight V194 -- The payload processing for Arianespace's year-opening Ariane 5 flight is continuing apace as the mission's two passengers are prepared for their March 24 liftoff.
During the activity, Germany's COMSATBw-2 made its initial contact with Ariane 5 launcher hardware inside the Spaceport's state-of-the-art S5 facility, where the spacecraft is undergoing the checkout and fueling process. This step involved COMSATBw-2's fit-check with its cone-shaped payload adapter - which serves as the satellite's interface with Ariane 5.
COMSATBw-2 is a secure relay spacecraft that will deliver key services for the German Bundeswehr (German armed forces). Based on the Spacebus 3000B2 satellite bus, this platform was designed, integrated and tested by Thales Alenia Space on behalf of EADS Astrium - the program's space segment prime contractor.
Together with COMSATBw-1 - which was orbited by Ariane 5 last year - the spacecraft will provide a secure broadband network that guarantees uninterrupted communications between the government, military authorities and armed forces deployed around the world.
COMSATBw-2 will ride as the lower passenger during Arianespace's upcoming mission, to be deployed after its companion payload - ASTRA 3B, which has been installed atop the Ariane 5 SYLDA dual-payload dispenser system inside the Spaceport's launch vehicle Final Assembly Building.
ASTRA 3B was built by Astrium for commercial telecommunications operator SES ASTRA, and will provide direct-to-home broadcast services and two-way broadband relay across Europe and the Middle East.
Liftoff of the dual-payload Ariane 5 mission with ASTRA 3B and COMSATBw-2 will initiate Arianespace's busy launch schedule in 2010, which includes a total of seven flights for its heavy-lift workhorse.