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Astra 5B has arrived at the Kourou spaceport ready for launch on an Ariane 5 rocket. Together with its fellow passenger (Hispasat’s Amazonas 4A craft) the two satellites are scheduled to be launched on March 21st in a launch window which opens at 7.05pm local time in French Guiana.
The Astra 5B launch should have taken place in December last year but was held up the late arrival of the Amazonas craft which needed some final inspection changes. It was then rescheduled for January, and then further delayed by the non-availability of the Ariane launcher.
Astra 5B is targeted for the 31.5 deg East orbital position, and will serve much of Europe and Russia. It will take over from the existing Astra 1G craft that’s been serving the spot since 2010.
Interestingly, Astra 5B is also carrying an L-Band payload which will supply extra coverage for Europe’s ‘Galileo’ GPS system.