Athena-Fidus receives its ''kick'' for upcoming Ariane 5 launch

Ariane Flight VA217

Fueling is underway at the Spaceport with Athena-Fidus, one of two advanced relay platforms to be orbited on Arianespace's first mission in 2014 – which will initiate a highly active year for the company's launch vehicle family: Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega.

The satellite is being processed in the S5A fueling and integration hall of the Spaceport's S5 payload preparation center, marking another step toward its scheduled February 6 liftoff on a heavy-lift Ariane 5. Athena-Fidus will be joined on the flight by ABS-2, which completed its own fueling process earlier in January.

This upcoming mission from French Guiana is designated Flight VA217 in Arianespace's numbering system, signifying the 217th launch of an Ariane vehicle since the European-developed launcher family began operations in December 1979. It will lift off from the Spaceport's ELA-3 launch zone during a 2-hour, 5-minute launch window that opens at 5:30 p.m. local time on February 6.

Thales Alenia Space is the Athena-Fidus program prime contractor, operating on behalf of the French CNES and Italian ASI space agencies, as well as the French DGA and Italian Segredifesa defense ministry organizations.  After its deployment by Ariane 5, the spacecraft will provide data transmission services for the French and Italian defense ministries, as well as these countries' security organizations.

Based on the Spacebus 4000 platform, Athena-Fidus carries EHF and Ka-band transponders for its mission and deploys the latest civil telecom standards – DVB-RCS and DVB-S2 – to ensure optimum transmission capacity and service availability.  It has a launch mass above 3,000 kg. and offers a design life exceeding 15 years.

The ABS-2 co-passenger was built by Space Systems/Loral (SSL) for global satellite operator ABS. It is one of the most powerful commercial spacecraft for the Eastern Hemisphere, designed to provide multiple services that include direct-to-home and cable television distribution, VSAT, data networks and telecommunications, as well as the supply of substantial new capacity from the operator’s prime orbital location at 75 deg. East.

Source: Arianespace
Date: Jan 22, 2014