Arianespace’s 10th mission of 2018 orbited satellite payloads today for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), using the workhorse Ariane 5 on a launch performed from the Spaceport in French Guiana.
Designated Flight VA246 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system, it delivered the ISRO GSAT-11 relay platform for Ku- and Ka-band communications, along with KARI’s GEO-KOMPSAT-2A – which is to provide meteorological and space weather monitoring data.
“I want to express my deepest gratitude to two very special partners since the beginning of their space ambitions: ISRO and KARI,” said Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël in post-launch comments from the Spaceport.
Continuing the long relationship with India’s ISRO
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.
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 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.
South Korea’s seventh satellite orbited by Arianespace
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 program.
“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.
In addition to the Ariane 5’s payload fairing logos representing Flight VA246’s two satellite passengers, also included was a decal recognizing the French city of Les Mureaux – home to the ArianeGroup site responsible for integration of Ariane 5 cryogenic main stages today, and for Ariane 6 launchers in the future. Les Mureaux is completing its year-long presidency for the Community of Ariane Cities, a non-profit association that brings together cities and their industrial companies involved in the Ariane program.
The rapid tempo of Arianespace launches
CEO Stéphane Israël noted 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 liftoffs coming every two weeks since early November. “What an impressive tempo,” he concluded, noting that today’s 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.