Arianespace successfully launched two satellites on the evening of December 4th from the spaceport at Kourou in French Guiana.
One satellite, for India, was the country’s heaviest-ever craft. Deployed first during Ariane 5’s 33-minute mission to geostationary transfer orbit, GSAT-11 will be positioned at 74 deg. East, providing communications services in Ku- and Ka-bands in both forward and return links. The satellite was designed and manufactured by India’s Space Research Organisation (ISRO), with its multi-spot beam coverage over the Indian mainland and nearby islands to bring significant advantages to users when compared with existing India’s INSAT/GSAT satellite systems. GSAT-11’s design lifetime is more than 15 years.
Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël noted that GSAT-11 was the 22nd ISRO satellite orbited by Arianespace and Ariane-series launchers, tracing the relationship back to India’s APPLE small experimental communications spacecraft, which had a liftoff mass of 670-kg. and was lofted in 1981 by an Ariane 1 version. On today’s Ariane 5 mission, GSAT-11 weighed in at 5,854.6 kg. – the largest and heaviest satellite ever built by the Indian space agency.
The second craft was a Korean scientific satellite. GEO-KOMPSAT-2A was carried in Ariane 5’s lower payload position and released second in the sequence for Flight VA246. Developed by KARI at its South Korean facility in Daejeon, this 3,507.2-kg. satellite will deliver meteorological and space weather monitoring from an orbital position of 128.2 deg. East as part of a Korean government national programme.
“Arianespace is proud to maintain such a close bond with South Korea,” Israël stated, adding that Flight VA246 marked the seventh time South Korea’s flag has appeared on the fairing of an Arianespace launch vehicle.
Israël added that Arianespace has once again confirmed its flexibility and reliability by performing five launches in two and a half months – from September 25 to December 4 – with lift-offs coming every two weeks since early November. “What an impressive tempo,” he concluded, noting that Flight VA246’s orbiting of the GSAT-11 and GEO-KOMPSAT-2A satellites for connectivity and weather data gathering fulfills Arianespace’s motto: “Space for a better life on Earth.”
Arianespace has one more mission scheduled before year-end, using the Soyuz medium-lift member of its launcher family to orbit the CSO-1 spacecraft for France’s DGA (Direction générale de l’armement) defense procurement agency and the French CNES space agency.