Ariane 5 orbits another dual-satellite payload

Arianespace performed its third Ariane 5 flight of 2010 today to orbit another dual-satellite payload and also announced two new contracts.

The Ariane 5's evening mission from the Spaceport successfully orbited 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.

"This was the 38th consecutive launch success for Ariane 5," said Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall in comments after the flight. "Since the start of 2010, we already have launched six large telecommunications satellites - which, I want to underscore - is more than all our competitors combined."

Le Gall also detailed the company's two new launch contracts: GSAT 10 for the Indian Space Research Organization and Intelsat-20 for Intelsat. They further strengthen Arianespace's order book, bringing to 32 the number of satellites on backlog to be launched by the company, along with six Automated Transfer Vehicles for servicing of the International Space Station. This volume will cover 22 launches of the Ariane 5, along with 17 flights for Soyuz.

During today's mission, 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.

Following its daytime liftoff from the Spaceport, the Ariane 5 provided another highly accurate payload delivery, with the following provisional orbital parameters for the injection of its cryogenic upper stage: Perigee: 248.4 km. for a target of 248.4 km.; apogee: 35,923 km., for a target of 35,919 km; inclination: 2.00 deg. for a target of 2.00 deg.

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 liftoff 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.

RASCOM-QAF1R was the second payload that Arianespace has launched for RASCOM (the Regional African Satellite Communications Organization), which was created in the 1990s to implement, operate and maintain the space segment of an African telecommunications satellite system.

The RASCOM-QAF1R platform weighed approximately 3,050 kg. at liftoff 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.

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