Arianespace Completes Deployment of O3b Constellation on Fifth Mission for Operator SES
(Source: Arianespace; issued April 04, 2019)
Arianespace has orbited the final four latest satellites in the first phase of SES’s O3b constellation.

The launch took place on Thursday, April 4, at 2:03 pm (local time) from the Guiana Space Center (CSG), Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana (South America).

This was the fifth O3b mission by Arianespace, which has now orbited all 20 satellites in the first phase of this medium Earth orbit (MEO) constellation. Arianespace has launched a total of 61 satellites overall for SES since 1988, both geostationary and non-geostationary.

With this fourth successful launch of the year, and the second Soyuz mission for constellations in 2019, Arianespace continues to prove that its family of launchers is perfectly suited to all types of missions into all orbits.

Following the launch, Stéphane Israël, Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace, said: “With this fifth successful launch for the O3b constellation, Arianespace is proud of deploying the entire first phase of this innovative system. Our exceptional partnership with SES has enabled us to orbit 61 satellites, both geostationary and non-geostationary, for this leading international operator. I want to express my gratitude to SES for its trust. We are ready to take on new challenges together.”

Arianespace: A key partner for SES, supporting its ambitious vision

SES is the world’s first operator to provide a differentiated and scalable GEO-MEO offering worldwide, with more than 50 satellites in geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) and – including this launch – 20 in medium Earth orbit (MEO).

The four new Ka-band satellites built by Thales Alenia Space and orbited today by Arianespace will join SES’s existing constellation of O3b MEO satellites, operating at an altitude of approximately 8,000 km. and serving customers in nearly 50 countries. They will improve connectivity, increase performance and also seamlessly scale the existing O3b constellation.

Combining performance comparable to fiber-optics and global coverage, the O3b constellation will deliver high-performance solutions worldwide and help SES meet its ambitious goal of connecting the world by reducing the digital divide and offering new commercial models.

The first phase of this innovative space system started commercial service in September 2014. All satellites were deployed by Arianespace, using its Soyuz launcher. Each of the five launches lofted four satellites, performed in June 2013, July and December 2014, March 2018 and April 2019.

Arianespace: A major player in the constellation market

With today’s launch, which is the second of the year for satellite constellations, Arianespace once again shows its ability to deploy these systems in either low or medium Earth orbit.

Since 1999, Arianespace has deployed a total of 113 constellation satellites (87 commercial and 26 institutional) for telecommunications and connectivity, Earth observation and navigation applications.

Constellations demand launch vehicles capable of deploying a large number of satellites during short periods of time, as well as replacing portions of the constellations over time as required. Arianespace’s current launcher family addresses all these needs, making it perfectly suited to these innovative space systems. Europe’s next-generation launchers – Ariane 6 and Vega C – also will offer the flexibility needed to meet these requirements.

In fact, several institutional and commercial customers have already signed launch contracts to deploy their constellations using Ariane 6 and Vega C.
A sustained high launch rate for Arianespace and its launchers

With nine launches in just six months (from October 19, 2018 to April 4, 2019), Arianespace continues to show its high availability and the capability of its family of launchers to perform all missions into all orbits.

Today’s launch also signals the fourth Soyuz mission in less than five months from the Guiana Space Center (from VS19 on November 6, 2018 to VS22 on April 4, 2019). This impressive rate for Arianespace’s launcher was made possible by the use of FCube (Fregat Fueling Facility), a building at the Guiana Space Center dedicated to fueling the Fregat upper stage. Inaugurated in 2015, it reduces the number of steps needed in Soyuz launch campaigns and optimizes this process.


Arianespace has orbited more than 600 satellites since 1980, using its family of three launchers, Ariane, Soyuz and Vega, from launch sites in French Guiana (South America) and Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Arianespace is headquartered in Evry, near Paris, and has a technical facility at the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, plus local offices in Washington, D.C., Tokyo and Singapore. Arianespace is a subsidiary of ArianeGroup, which holds 74% of its share capital, with the balance held by 15 other shareholders from the European launcher industry.

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Soyuz Successfully Launches Four New Satellites for O3b Constellation from Guiana Space Centre
(Source: French National Space Center; issued April 04, 2019)
Soyuz accomplished a flawless launch from the Guiana Space Centre (CSG), Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, placing four new O3b satellites into medium Earth orbit (MEO) for global operator SES Networks.

Soyuz thus completed its 22nd straight success from the CSG since 2011.With a total launch mass of 2,800 kilograms (700 kilograms each), the four telecommunications and Internet satellites, built by prime contractor Thales Alenia Space and with an expected service life of 10 years, joined the constellation of O3b MEO satellites orbiting at 8,000 kilometres from Earth and serving almost 50 countries.

The four new satellites will improve connectivity, increase performance and serve to seamlessly scale the existing O3b constellation. By increasing the size of the constellation from 16 to 20 satellites, SES Networks will offer enhanced coverage while providing greater service availability and reliability to cater for the increasing demand for bandwidth from government customers and in the telecommunications, cloud computing, maritime and energy markets.

On the occasion of this launch, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: “This 22ndsuccess for Soyuz from the Guiana Space Centre is a great source of satisfaction for all of the teams involved. It not only confirms Soyuz’s ability to launch multiple satellites, but also that Europe’s range of launchers is geared to the requirements of the global market.

“I would like to most warmly congratulate all of our partners at SES, Thales Alenia Space, ESA, Arianespace, Starsem and European and Russian manufacturers, and of course at CNES, particularly the teams at the Launch Vehicles Directorate (DLA) and the CSG who developed and operate the Soyuz launch system there.”

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