Latin American Intelsat 30 and ARSAT 1 launch aboard Ariane 5
Thursday evening, at 5:44 p.m. EST (2144 GMT), the Ariane 5 ECA rocket took to the skies in Kourou, French Guiana to deliver the Intelsat 30 (IS-30) and ARSAT 1 (Argentina Satellite-1) payloads. Operated by the French company ArianeSpace, this evening’s launch, designated Flight VA220, lifted off from the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch complex. The Ariane 5 booster was rolled out to the pad on Oct. 15 from the nearby Final Assembly Building. Today’s launch started with a temporary hold in the countdown due to a weather rule violation, but successfully launched within the designated launch window after storms hovering above the local jungles cleared from the area.
At 5:43 p.m. EST (2143 GMT), the rocket ignited, launching 775 tons (703,068 kg) into space and burning about 5 tons (4,535 kg) of fuel per second. During the first stage of powered flight, the solid propellant fileld twin boosters burned for about 2.5 minutes before separating at 5:46 p.m. EST (2146 GMT). About a minute later, fairing separation occurred, when two pyrotechnic systems removed the payload shroud by means of a controlled explosion. This then began the second powered flight stage with upper stage ignition at 5:52 p.m. EST (2152 GMT), with the main stage falling back to Earth and landing in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa.
At 6:08 p.m. EST (2208 GMT), the third and final powered flight phase of the flight was underway with the upper stage engine cutoff, allowing for a series of small thruster burns and maneuvers. The successful conclusion of the mission saw the Intelsat 30/DLA-1 deployed over the eastern coast of Africa at 6:11 p.m. EST (2211 GMT), with the separation of the SYLDA module about 4 minutes later followed by the separation of the final passenger, ARSAT-1, successfully deploying at 6:17 p.m. EST (2217 GMT).
The two, large, communications spacecraft were inserted into geostationary orbit. The first of these released during the flight sequence – was the 20-kilowatt class Ku-and C-band Intelsat 30 with its co-host payload, DLA -1 (DirecTV Latin America-1). Both satellites are due to be ready for service in approximately 38 days after undergoing testing and solar array deployment.
Built by SSL (Space Systems/Loral) and operated by the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (INTELSAT), the Intelsat 30/DLA-1 mission is to expand the home entertainment offerings in Latin America, in addition to providing backup and restoration services with its precision antennas delivering to many different markets in the Latin American region. Intelsat 30 is fitted with 10 C-band transponders that will improve the current C-band infrastructure in the area, with its hosted payload fitted with a Ku-band transponder to aid in its communications mission. The satellite pair will be joining INTELSAT’s Galaxy 3C at an orbital location of 95 degrees west.
Approximately six minutes after the IS-30/DLA-1 combo was deployed, the second phase of Ariane 5’s payload was released from the SYLDA. The 6,400 lb ( 2,900 kg) ARSAT 1 satellite is Argentina’s first geostationary satellite, whom built the satellite.
The satellite’s mission is to deliver a wide range of communications options such as data transmission as well as telephone and television services) including direct broadcast TV in the ISDB-S standard) across Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay with its 24 IEEE Ku band (NATO J-band) transponders. Upon insertion, the INVAP produced satellite will soon reach its orbital position of about 71.8 degrees West to begin operations.
The pairing of Intelsat 30/DLA-1 and ARSAT-1 was made possible by a almost 20 ft (6 m) tall device made specifically for the Ariane 5 ECA rocket called SYLDA (SYstème de Lancement Double Ariane).
“The SYLDA is a unique piece of flight hardware for the Ariane V system which allows two satellites to launch on the same rocket. In this configuration, IS-30 is mounted on top of the SYLDA and then the co-passenger is encapsulated under the SYLDA; all of this is protected by the payload fairing as the rocket propels our satellite through the atmosphere and into orbit,” said Todd Schilb, Program Manager of Space Systems Acquisition, on INTELSAT’s blog documenting the satellite’s progress.
The launch of these two payloads required the 1,713,000 lb (777,000 kg) heavy launch vehicle, Ariane 5 ECA (Evolution Cryotechnique type A), which has been both ArianeSpace and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) heavy lift workhorse since the mid-1990s. Built by Airbus Space and Defense, it is the successor to the first 4 rockets in the Ariane series which flew mostly during the 1970s and 1980s and even up through the early 1990s. The Ariane 5 ECA variant was first used in 2005 and includes an upgraded Vulcain 2 first-stage motor and new liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks. The unique SYLDA feature allows this heavy launch vehicle to launch up to 20,100 lb (9,100 kg) for dual payloads, as seen during this evening’s launch.
Today’s launch was the seventy-sixth flight for the 171 ft (52 m) tall Arien 5 ECA rocket and the sixth flight this year from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana. Both of the satellite payloads flown today are expect to remain in service for the next 15 years. Next year in 2015, they are scheduled to be joined by two more planned ARSAT satellites, 2 and 3, as well as Intelsat 31.
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Britt Rawcliffe is a professional freelance aerospace and aviation photographer based out of Pennsylvania with over six years of professional photographic experience. Her creative imagery has spanned into all areas relating to space, including launches, photojournalism, architecture, and portraiture. Britt’s passion for history has been a common thread in much of her work, including having photographed many Moonwalkers such as Buzz Aldrin and Gene Cernan.