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Arianespace confirms triple launch is go

August 13, 2020

By Chris Forrester

Arianespace has confirmed that it will launch three satellites on a single Ariane-5 rocket on August 14th, subject to the usual weather conditions.

Arianespace says its Flight VA253 – which will utilise an increased-lift Ariane 5 version – is a go for launch following an additional Launch Readiness Review (LRR) performed in French Guiana.

This approval clears the way for Ariane 5’s return to the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch zone tomorrow, followed by the final countdown leading to an evening lift-off on August 14th.

The mission to geostationary transfer orbit will deploy two telecommunications satellites: Galaxy 30 for Intelsat, and BSAT-4b for B-SAT, both of which are long-time Arianespace customers. Also carried by Ariane 5 is the Mission Extension Vehicle-2 (MEV-2) for Northrop Grumman’s wholly-owned subsidiary, SpaceLogistics LLC, which is a first-time user of Arianespace launch services.

Galaxy 30 was built by Northrop Grumman for Intelsat and will be the first payload deployed during the Ariane 5 mission. This satellite is to provide UHD video distribution/broadcast and broadband services that cover North America.

MEV-2 is stacked under Galaxy 30 on Ariane 5, and is to be the second payload released during Flight VA253. The SpaceLogistics LLC-built spacecraft is designed to offer life extension services for in-orbit satellites, and its initial target is the Intelsat 10-02 relay platform, which has been in geostationary orbit since 2004.

Completing Flight VA253’s mission sequence will be the deployment of BSAT-4b, configured for UHD DTH television broadcasting across Japan. Built by Maxar Technologies, BSAT-4b will be operated by Japan’s Broadcasting Satellite System Corporation (B-SAT).

The launcher configuration used for Flight VA253 marks the final step in Ariane 5’s latest performance improvement programme, which was decided in 2016 and has increased the launch vehicle’s total payload capacity by 300 kg. ArianeGroup is production prime contractor for Ariane 5, delivering the launcher to Arianespace for operation.

Liftoff of Flight VA253 is planned as early as possible within the following launch window on August 14th: Between 5:33 p.m. and 6:20 p.m. Washington, D.C. time, Between 6:33 p.m. and 7:20 p.m. Kourou, French Guiana time, Between 21:33 and 22:20 Universal time (UTC), Between 11:33 p.m. and 12:20 a.m. Paris time, in the night of August 14 to August 15, Between 06:33 a.m. and 07:20 a.m. Japan time, in the morning of August 15th.

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