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Ariane 5 Lofts Pair of Commercial Telecom Satellites

Eutelsat 21B telecommunications satellite. Credit: Thales Alenia Space

PARIS — Europe’s Ariane 5 ECA heavy-lift rocket on Nov. 10 placed European and Brazilian commercial telecommunications satellites into orbit in the rocket’s 52nd consecutive success. Both satellites were reported healthy after separation from the vehicle.

The launch, from Europe’s Guiana Space Center spaceport on the northeast coast of South America, was the sixth Ariane 5 flight of 2012. A seventh Ariane 5 launch is planned for Dec. 19.

The launch came less than two weeks ahead of a meeting of European Space Agency governments in Naples, Italy, to decide the future of the Ariane system, and notably whether to start work on an Ariane 5 successor vehicle to be in service around 2022.

Ariane 5 Launches Eutelsat 21B and Star One C3. Credit: Courtesy of SpaceVidsNet

The Nov. 10 launch, which had been delayed for 24 hours because of unfavorable high-altitude winds over the launch site, placed into geostationary transfer orbit the Star One C3 telecommunications satellite for Brazil’s Star One satellite fleet operator.

Star One C3, built by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., weighed 3,225 kilograms at launch. It carries 28 C-band and 16 Ku-band transponders and will be used to provide telecommunications links to a region as far north as Miami and covering the Andean region in addition to the whole of Brazil. The satellite is designed to provide five kilowatts of power to its payload at the end of its 15-year service life.

The launch was the third Orbital-built commercial telecommunications satellite placed into orbit since August, with a fourth — Mexsat 3 for the Mexican government — scheduled for launch, also by an Ariane 5 ECA, in December.

Star One C3 is scheduled to replace the Brasilsat 3 satellite at 75 degrees west, but Star One officials in the past had raised the possibility of its being used at 84 degrees west as well.

Brazil remains one of the fastest-growing satellite telecommunications markets in the world. Several major fleet operators have stationed satellites in orbit with beams directed to Brazil, with others — including EchoStar Corp. of Englewood, Colo. — planning still more capacity for the region.

Also riding into orbit aboard the Ariane 5 ECA was the Eutelsat 21B satellite for fleet operator Eutelsat of Paris.

Built by Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy, Eutelsat 21B will be operated at Eutelsat’s 21.5 degrees east orbital slot. Its 40 Ku-band transponders will double Eutelsat’s capacity at that slot for coverage of Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. The satellite is designed to provide 12 kilowatts of power to the payload at the end of its 15 years in orbit.

Eutelsat said Eutelsat 21B will replace the smaller Eutelsat 21A, which will be moved to another location.

Eutelsat 21B is the first of seven satellites Eutelsat is launching to increase its total fleet capacity by nearly 30 percent by 2015. The next, Eutelsat 70B, is scheduled for launch in early December aboard a Sea Launch vehicle.

Europe’s launch operator, Arianespace of Evry, France, said the launch placed into orbit 9,216 kilograms of hardware, including the two satellites’ combined liftoff mass of 8,250 kilograms and the 966-kilogram payload dispenser that s supports the satellites under the rocket fairing.

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