Arianespace Gives a Lift to Four More Satellites in the O3b Medium Earth Orbit Constellation
(Source: Arianespace; issued March 9, 2018)
Four additional spacecraft for SES’ O3b Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellite constellation were orbited today by a Soyuz launch from French Guiana, supporting a long-time Arianespace customer and underscoring the medium-lift workhorse launcher’s suitability for a full range of missions.

Departing from the Spaceport’s ELS launch complex near the city of Sinnamary, and ascending into clear skies over French Guiana, Soyuz deployed its four passengers during a flight of approximately 2 hrs., 22 min. This included the propulsion of Soyuz’ first three stages, as well as four burns of its Fregat upper stage.

Today’s launch was Soyuz’ 18th from French Guiana since it began service at the Spaceport in 2011, and was designated Flight VS18 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system.

In post-launch comments at the Spaceport, Luce Fabreguettes, Arianespace’s Executive Vice President Missions, Operations & Purchasing, noted that the mission’s payloads are the 54th, 55th, 56th and 57th spacecraft orbited by Arianespace for global satellite operator SES – extending an exceptional partnership that dates back to 1988.

O3b spacecraft are utilized by the SES Networks operation of SES to provide low latency, fiber-like connectivity in the growing mobility, fixed data and government markets. These trapezoidal-shaped Ka-band relay platforms, produced by Thales Alenia Space, have a liftoff mass of 700 kg. each.

Speaking from the Spaceport after the mission’s completion, SES Chief Technology Officer Martin Halliwell confirmed that ground tracking stations acquired signals from all four satellites lofted by Flight VS18, and thanked Arianespace for the successful launch. “This important mission increases our capacity in Medium Earth Orbit by 38 percent,” he said.

Halliwell noted that SES would be back at the Spaceport in early 2019 with the next four O3b satellites.

Enhancing SES Networks’ services from orbit

The passengers on today’s flight will join the 12 O3b satellites already in orbit, launched by Arianespace using its medium-lift Soyuz workhorse that carries four spacecraft on each launch. The previous missions were performed in June 2013, July 2014 and December 2014. Positioned at approximately 8,000 km., the O3b satellites are some four-times-closer to Earth than geostationary-orbit satellites.

The four newly-launched satellites will enable SES Networks to offer more capacity, enhanced coverage, increased efficiencies and greater reliability while delivering carrier-grade services to telecommunications operators, mobile network operators, enterprises, internet service providers and government customers.

After today’s Flight VS18, Arianespace has five more SES satellites in its backlog, comprising four additional spacecraft for SES Networks’ O3b constellation, and the all-electric SES-17 – to be used by SES for high-speed inflight connectivity and high-powered data services.

Thales Alenia Space-built satellites on Flight VS18

In comments after Flight VS18, Arianespace’s Luce Fabreguettes also offered her congratulations to Thales Alenia Space, another long-time partner that produced the four O3b spacecraft lofted on today’s Soyuz mission. “With 154 Thales Alenia Space produced satellites orbited since 1981 by Arianespace, and 11 more in our backlog, we will certainly continue to partner for many common successes,” she added.

Patrick Mauté, Thales Alenia Space’s Chief Technical Officer, said the Soyuz launcher “operated like clockwork – perfectly,” and complemented the launch teams’ “skills, competency, and great talent,” adding they were the keys to today’s successful launch.

Flight VS18 was Arianespace’s second mission in 2018 with a member of its complete launcher family – which also includes the heavyweight Ariane 5 and light-lift Vega. It continues a busy year of activity for Arianespace, which has identified a total of 14 launch opportunities from the Spaceport.

Arianespace’s next mission is Flight VA242 with an Ariane 5, which will carry a dual-payload to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) that includes the HYLAS 4 satellite for Avanti.


Soyuz Launches Four O3b Satellites from the Guiana Space Centre
(Source: French National Space Center; issued March 09, 2018)
On Friday 9 March, Soyuz accomplished a flawless launch from the Guiana Space Centre (CSG), Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, orbiting four new telecommunications satellites for the O3b medium-Earth-orbit (MEO) constellation, marking its 18th straight success from the CSG since 2011.

The four satellites were orbited for SES, the world-leading telecommunications satellite operator and the first to deliver a differentiated and scalable GEO-MEO offering with more than 50 satellites in geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) and 12 in medium Earth orbit (MEO). SES provides satellite communications services to broadcasters, content and Internet service providers, mobile and fixed network operators, governments and institutions, as well as to businesses around the world.

With a total launch mass of 2,800 kilograms (700 kilograms each), the four satellites will join the existing O3b MEO constellation to deliver high-speed connectivity to people and businesses in the growing mobility, fixed data and government markets. By scaling its MEO fleet, SES is adding 38% more capacity across the globe and growing the addressable market from 45 to 50 degrees North and South latitude. The satellites have an expected service lifetime of more than 10 years.

On the occasion of this launch, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: “It is very satisfying for all of the launch teams to see this 18th straight success for Soyuz from the Guiana Space Centre. I would like to warmly congratulate all of our partners’ teams at SES Networks, ESA, Arianespace, Starsem, European and Russian manufacturers, at CNES and of course in particular the teams at the Launch Vehicles Directorate and the CSG.”

Fourth Batch of O3b Satellites in Orbit
(Source: Thales Alenia Space; issued March 09, 2108)
CANNES --- The four latest satellites in the O3b constellation built by Thales Alenia Space for SES Networks were successfully launched today from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana (South America) by a Soyuz rocket.

These four new satellites will expand the current O3b constellation of 12 satellites, which have been operational in orbit since 2014. Together, they will offer more capacity, improved coverage, greater efficiency and even higher reliability.

Thanks to these high-performance satellites, SES Networks, the SES business unit dedicated to global data networks, provides broadband services to telecom and mobile network operators, Internet service providers, enterprises, and customers in the mobility, energy and government sectors.

O3b satellites are positioned at an altitude of 8,000 km along the equator, four times closer to the Earth than satellites in geostationary orbit. Operating in the Ka-band, they offer telecommunications and Internet connectivity services at a fibre-like speed across the globe.

“After having delivered 46 telecom satellites in 2017, Thales Alenia Space is delighted to celebrate the kickoff of 2018 launches with our long-standing partners, SES and Arianespace,” said Jean Loïc Galle, President and Chief Executive Officer of Thales Alenia Space. “This latest cluster of four satellites joins its sister satellites in orbit, after their launches in 2013 and 2014, to boost the constellation’s service capacity. We are proud to help our customer SES grow their market, and we are ready and willing to offer new telecom solutions that provide even higher performance, with more integrated and digital systems.”

Combining 40 years of experience and a unique diversity of expertise, talents and cultures, Thales Alenia Space architects design and deliver high technology solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services and solutions. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of about 2.4 billion euros in 2016 and has 7,980 employees in nine countries.


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