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New Australian satellite to launch

Artist's impression of the Jabiru-1 satellite

Artist's impression of the Jabiru-1 satellite, due to launch in 2014 aboard an Ariane 5 rocket.

IT WAS ANNOUNCED TODAY that Australian communications company NewSat has chosen Arianespace to launch its first satellite, Jabiru-1, in 2014.

Jean-Yves Le Gall, Chairman and CEO of Arianespace, and Adrian Ballintine, founder and Chief Executive Officer of NewSat Limited (NewSat), today signed the launch services contract for the Jabiru-1 satellite at Satellite 2012 in Washington, DC.

Jabiru-1 will be boosted into geostationary transfer orbit by an Ariane 5 launch vehicle from the Guiana Space Centre, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, during the fourth quarter of 2014.

Geostationary transfer orbit is a “halfway” orbit, from which a satellite’s own rocket  motor then boosts it into its final orbit.

Jabiru-1 is currently being built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems using an A2100 platform. Weighing 5,900 kg at launch, it will be fitted with 50 Ka-band transponders configured in a variety of multi-spot, steerable and regional beams.

Launch of an Ariane 5 rocket

Launch of an Ariane 5 rocket

Jabiru-1’s high-powered capacity will provide flexible communication solutions to enterprise and government customers across Asia, the Middle East and eastern Africa. It offers a design life of 15 years.

Jean-Yves Le Gall, Chairman and CEO of Arianespace, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen by NewSat to launch their first satellite. Arianespace is particularly proud of this opportunity to serve a new Australian operator. For us, this latest contract provides further recognition of the outstanding quality and competitiveness of our launch services.”

The announcement comes only months after Arianespace also won the competition to launch Optus’ next satellite, Optus 10.

“Jabiru-1 is very important for us and we are very pleased to entrust Arianespace with its launch, since Arianespace sets the world standard in this market,” said Adrian Ballintine. “It is extremely important for us at NewSat to know that our first satellite will be launched by Arianespace and by Ariane 5, both synonymous with reliability and excellence.”

Arianespace is the world’s leading launch service & solutions company, providing innovation to its customers since 1980. As of 1st March 2012, Arianespace had performed 204 Ariane launches (298 payloads), 26 Soyuz launches (24 at Baikonur, Kazakhstan, and two at the Guiana Space Centre) and the first launch of Vega. It has a backlog of 23 Ariane 5, 15 Soyuz and two Vega launches, equal to more than three years of business.

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Adapted from information issued by Arianespace.

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Video – Satellites sent into orbit

A HUGE ARIANE 5 ROCKET thunders into space in this dramatic video. The launch took place at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, and the mission was to place two telecommunications satellites, Arabsat-5C and SES-2, into their planned transfer orbits.

Liftoff of flight VA204, the 60th Ariane 5 mission, came at 7:38am (Sydney time) on September 22, 2011.

The 50.5-metre-tall Ariane 5 is a heavy-lift rocket, with a mass of 780 tonnes (including fuel) at lift-off.

Adapted from information issued by ESA / CNES / Arianespace / Photo Optique vidéo du CSG.

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Cargo ship on way to Space Station

Photo showing boosters being jettisoned from the Ariane 5

Photo captured from the real-time video from the Ariane 5 launcher, looking back down the main body of the rocket and showing the jettisoning of the booster rockets.

EUROPE’S SECOND Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), Johannes Kepler, has been launched into its targeted low orbit by an Ariane 5 rocket. The unmanned supply ship is planned to deliver critical supplies and re-boost the International Space Station (ISS) during its almost four-month mission.

The Ariane 5 lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 8:50am Thursday, February 17, Sydney time (21:50 GMT Wednesday).

The launcher and its 20-tonne payload flew over the Atlantic towards the Azores and Europe. An initial 8-minute burn of the upper stage injected it, with Johannes Kepler, into a low orbit inclined at 51.6 degrees to the equator.

After a 42-minute coast, the upper stage reignited for 30 seconds to circularise the orbit at an altitude of 260 kilometres. About 64 minutes into flight, the unmanned supply ship separated safely from the spent upper stage.

The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) deployed its four solar wings soon after proceed with early orbit operations to begin its climb to the International Space Station (ISS).

First of four

“This launch takes place in a crowded and changing manifest for the ISS access, with HTV, Progress, ATV and the Shuttle coming and going,” said Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director General. “In October last year we had fixed the ATV launch schedule with our international partners, and we could keep that schedule thanks to the expertise and dedication of the European industry and Arianespace, of ESA and CNES teams and of our international partners.”

“ATV-2 is the first of a production of four and this new step is the result of technical expertise and political support from Member States to ESA and to international cooperation. We are now looking for the docking to ISS to declare success.”

“ATV Johannes Kepler is inaugurating our regular service line to the ISS,”added Simonetta Di Pippo, ESA’s Director for Human Spaceflight.

For the first time, ESA used a special access device to load last-minute cargo items. “This late access confirms ATV’s role as a critical resupply vehicle for the Space Station,” she said.

Artist's impression of ATV Johannes Kepler

Artist's impression of the Automated Transfer Vehicle Johannes Kepler.

“Right now, integration for the next vehicle in line, Edoardo Amaldi, will be finished in Europe in August 2011, and production is under way for ATV-4 and -5.” Mrs Di Pippo confirmed that “Edoardo Amaldi is planned for launch in about 12 months. The other two will follow by 2014.”

Flying in the same orbital plane as the Station but well below its 350 km-high orbit, ATV is being constantly monitored by the dedicated ESA/CNES ATV Control Centre (ATV-CC) in Toulouse, France, in coordination with the ISS control centres in Moscow and Houston.

During the coming week, ATV will adjust its orbit to rendezvous with the ISS for docking on Thursday, 24 February.

Europe’s smart supply ship

Unlike its 2008 predecessor, ATV Jules Verne, ATV Johannes Kepler will not perform practice demonstration manoeuvres. Instead, it will dock directly and autonomously with Russia’s Zvezda module to deliver cargo, propellant and oxygen to the orbital outpost.

The ATVs are contributing to the support and maintenance of the ISS together with Russia’s Progress and Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle, the second of which is now docked to the European-built Node-2.

These three independent servicing systems provide a secure logistics lifeline, while NASA’s space shuttle is going to be phased out later this year.

This launch also marks the 200th flight of an Ariane vehicle since the debut of 24 December 1979. The total includes 116 flights of Ariane 4 from 1988 to 2003 and 56 flights of Ariane 5 from 1996.

Now in its fourth decade of service, Europe’s family of launchers has lofted some 330 payloads to Earth orbit and beyond. Among these, 31 were for ESA, including deep-space probes, astronomical observatories, meteorology, remote sensing and communication satellites, as well as ISS resupply ships.

Adapted from information issued by ESA. Image credits: ESA / D. Ducros.

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Europe’s year ahead in space

THIS VIDEO FROM THE European Space Agency (ESA) gives a preview of what to expect in 2011.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first human space flight: it was half a century ago that Yuri Gagarin made his historic orbit around our planet. Today, cosmonauts and astronauts from many nations are living and working together aboard the International Space Station.

Among them is ESA’s Paolo Nespoli, due to return in May from the 3rd European long-duration stay. He will later be joined by fellow ESA astronaut Roberto Vittori aboard one of the last space shuttle missions.

Other important ESA missions in 2011 are the debut of the second ATV unmanned cargo craft, planned for launch by Ariane 5 in February. Later, Europe’s spaceport in French Guyana will see the inaugural launches of the Russian Soyuz rocket and the new Vega.

ESA is also expecting interesting results from its Earth observing satellites and its Mars probe, Mars Express.

Adapted from information issued by ESA.

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Video: dual-satellite launch

The Arianespace company celebrated its third successful launch of 2010, as an Ariane 5 rocket on flight V196 thundered into space on August 4 from the Spaceport launch complex in Kourou, French Guiana.

Aboard the rocket were two satellites that will provide telecommunications services to Africa, the Middle East and Persian Gulf states: NILESAT 201 for Egyptian-based Nilesat, and RASCOM-QAF1R for the Pan-African satellite operator, RascomStar-QAF. Both spacecraft were built by Thales Alenia Space.

The heavy-lift Ariane 5 delivered an estimated total payload lift performance of 7,085 kg, which included 6,250 kg for the NILESAT 201 and RASCOM-QAF1R satellites, plus their integration hardware and the SYLDA 5 dual-payload dispenser system.

NILESAT 201 was released first in the flight sequence, being deployed from the top of Ariane 5’s payload “stack” at just under 29 minutes into the mission. With a lift-off mass of about 3,200-kg, the satellite carries 24 Ku-band and 4 Ka-band transponders, and is to be positioned at an orbital slot of 7 deg. West. It will provide direct television broadcasting for the Middle East, Africa and Gulf states, and also has the relay capability to open new markets such as broadband Internet access.

The RASCOM-QAF1R platform weighed approximately 3,050 kg at lift-off and is to be operated from an orbital position of 2.85 degrees East. It is designed to deliver communications services to rural parts of Africa, including long-distance domestic and international links, direct TV broadcasts and Internet access.

Three more Ariane 5 flights planned for the rest of this year. In addition, preparations continue for the upcoming introductions of the Soyuz and Vega launchers at the Spaceport.

Adapted from information issued by Arianespace.

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Rocket launch video

Arianespace stepped up its 2010 launch pace with the successful lift-off of a “dual-passenger” Ariane 5 rocket mission on Saturday, which lofted payloads for the Middle East and South Korea.

Launching from the ELA-3 launch facility in French Guiana, the Ariane 5 ECA placed Arabsat-5A and COMS into geostationary transfer orbits—providing a payload delivery performance of approximately 7,400 kg.

“This launch is the 37th consecutive success for our Ariane 5 launcher, and it clearly demonstrates our policy of quality—which is exactly what you—our customers expect, and I thank you for the confidence you have always shown for us,” Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall said in comments from the Spaceport’s Jupiter mission control room.

During Saturday’s launch, the Arabsat-5A satellite was deployed first during the flight sequence, being released from atop Ariane 5’s payload “stack” at 26 minutes into the mission.  Produced by Astrium and Thales Alenia Space for the Arabsat telecommunications operator, the satellite had a mass at lift-off of about 4,940 kg.

Launch of the Ariane 5 V195 mission

Launch of the Ariane 5 V195 mission

Arabsat-5A carries transponders for telecommunications and TV broadcasting services over the Middle East and Africa.  Astrium provided the Eurostar 3000 spacecraft platform and was responsible for satellite integration, while Thales Alenia Space supplied the payload.

The COMS satellite was separated from Ariane 5 at 32 minutes into the flight.  The multi-purpose COMS spacecraft for South Korea’s KARI (Korea Aerospace Research Institute) is fitted with three payloads for meteorological observation, ocean surveillance and experimental broadband multimedia communications services.

Following the launch, Le Gall announced that the next Ariane 5 mission will be another dual-passenger flight, which is scheduled for August 3 with RASCOM-QAF 1R and NILESAT 201.

“Since the creation of our company 30 years ago, we have successfully launched 281 satellites,” Le Gall said. “And this will continue, as our order book today has 34 satellites for launch to geostationary orbit, along with six Ariane 5 missions with the Automated Transfer Vehicle, and 17 launches to be performed by Soyuz. And since the beginning of 2010, we already have signed nine new contracts—the latest of which is with the Argentinean operator Arsat, which I am announcing today as a new contract.”

Adapted from information issued by Arianespace.