The Ariane 5 for Arianespace's fourth heavy-lift mission of 2011 has begun its initial build-up at the Spaceport - joining another launch campaign being conducted in parallel, and underscoring the French Guiana facility's flexibility in maintaining the launch pace for a broad international customer base.
Assembly of this latest Ariane 5 follows the same procedures as employed for the 58 workhorse launchers that preceded it, with activity beginning in the Launcher Integration Building. The core cryogenic stage was raised into position over one of two mobile launch tables in service at the Spaceport, and was followed by the positioning of two solid propellant boosters for mating with the core stage.
Arianespace's upcoming flight - designated VA203, for the 203rd mission with an Ariane family launcher - will mark another of Ariane 5's dual-payload missions, carrying two TV broadcast and telecommunications relay satellites: BSAT-3c/JCSAT-110R and ASTRA 1N.
BSAT-3c/JCSAT-110R is a co-procured spacecraft by Japan's Broadcasting Satellite System Corporation (B-SAT) and SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation, with its launch to be performed by Arianespace in the scope of a turnkey launch contract with American manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
ASTRA 1N will be operated by Luxemburg-based SES, which has a multi-launch agreement with Arianespace that also includes the orbiting of its SES 2 satellite in 2011.
The Ariane 5 mission with BSAT-3c/JCSAT-110R and ASTRA 1N will follow Arianespace's upcoming VA202 heavy-lift launch, which is to loft the ST-2 and GSAT-8 satellites on May 19. This launcher currently is in the Spaceport's Final Assembly Building, where payload integration is now underway.
Previous Ariane 5 flights in 2011 were VA201, performed on April 22 with the Yahsat Y1A and Intelsat New Dawn payloads; and the milestone VA200 mission, which carried Europe's second Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) on February 16 for servicing of the International Space Station.
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