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.