Arianespace has delivered another Ariane 5 to the launch zone at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, clearing the way for tomorrow's heavy-lift mission with a pair of telecommunications satellites: Sky Muster™ II and GSAT-18.
Riding atop a mobile launch table, Ariane 5 today completed its transfer from the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building – where payload integration occurred – to the dedicated ELA-3 launch complex. With this rollout completed, the final countdown will begin for an October 4 liftoff at the start of a 1-hr., 15-min. launch window opening at 5:30 p.m. local time in French Guiana.
Tomorrow’s mission is designated Flight VA231, and it has an estimated payload performance of 10,660 kg. – a total that factors in Sky Muster™ II and GSAT-18, plus the dual-satellite dispenser system and integration hardware. Both passengers are to be deployed to geostationary transfer orbit during a 32-min. flight sequence.
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Sky Muster™ II is the mission’s upper passenger and will be released first in the flight sequence at 28 min. after liftoff. Produced by SSL (Space Systems Loral) for operator nbn™, it will help extend high-speed internet across Australia, including the country’s rural and isolated regions.
To be deployed from Ariane 5’s lower passenger position is GSAT-18, which was built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to strengthen its current fleet of 14 operational telecommunications satellites. This spacecraft’s separation will occur approximately 32 min. after liftoff – completing the October 4 mission.
As the fifth heavy-lift Ariane 5 flight so far in 2016, tomorrow’s launch will continue a busy year of mission activity for Arianespace’s full family of launchers, which also has included two flights performed with the medium-lift Soyuz and one using the lightweight Vega.
Date: Oct 4, 2016