Ariane 5Ariane 5 launch with record GTO load

Zwei Satelliten gestartet<br /> Ariane 5 delivered a record performance during Arianespace's second heavy-lift flight of 2007, deploying two large telecommunications satellites into highly accurate geostationary transfer orbit on May 4. Launched from the ELA-3 complex at Europe's Spaceport, the Ariane 5 orbited ASTRA 1L for SES ASTRA and Galaxy 17 for Intelsat – marking the 18th consecutive success for Arianespace's workhorse launch vehicle.

The customers for today's mission are key international satellite communications companies, and both are long-time users of Arianespace launch services. "ASTRA 1L is the ninth satellite we have launched for SES ASTRA and the 26th for the SES family," Le Gall added in post-launch comments from the Spaceport's Jupiter mission center. "Just last December, we orbited AMC-18, and now – five months later – it was ASTRA 1L's turn. In addition, we will launch AMC-21 next year." Intelsat is a loyal Arianespace customer as well, and the 4,100-kg. Galaxy 17 spacecraft orbited today become the organization's 45th satellite to use an Ariane launcher since 1983. Fitted with 24 Ku-band and 24 C-band transponders, Galaxy 17 is designed to provide television and telephony services for North America.
The mission originally had been scheduled for May 3, but was delayed 24 hours by high-altitude winds over French Guiana, which exceeded the established safety margins. The weather cooperated for tonight's launch – even providing a break in the rainy conditions at French Guiana, allowing the launcher's initial ascent to be viewed, including separation of the Ariane 5's two solid boosters approximately 2 min. 20 sec. into the flight.

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