Ariane 5 Anomaly: Satellites Healthy But Not Where They Should Be

Ariane 5 launches with SES-14 and Al Yah 3 satellites. (Credit: Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

An Ariane 5 booster delivered two communications satellites into the wrong orbits on Thursday, but their owners say the spacecraft are healthy and will be able to reach their intended destinations using on-board propulsion.

SES says its SES-14 satellite will be reach its intended geosynchronous orbit four weeks later than planned.

“SES confirms that the spacecraft is in good health, all subsystems on board are nominal, and the satellite is expected to meet the designed life time,” the company said in a press release. “SES-14 will be positioned at 47.5 degrees West to serve Latin America, the Caribbean, North America and the North Atlantic region with C- and Ku-band wide beam coverage and Ku-band high throughput spot beam coverage.”

Yahsat issued a similar statement concerning its Al Yah 3 satellite. The company is working on a plan to get the spacecraft to its planned orbit.

“We are pleased to know that the satellite is healthy, and that the necessary steps are being taken to ensure the original mission is fulfilled,” said CEO Masood M. Sharif Mahmood. “I would like to thank our technology partner Orbital ATK and the Yahsat team in ensuring the Al Yah 3 objectives are met.“

Orbital data show the satellites were delivered close to their targeted geo-transfer orbits of 250 x 45,000 km. However, their inclinations are at 20.64 degrees rather than at the planned 3 degrees.

Controllers lost contact with the Ariane 5’s second stage into its engine burn. The telemetry loss continued throughout the rest of powered flight.

Arianespace is investigating the anomaly.

“Arianespace has set up an independent enquiry commission in conjunction with ESA,” the company said in a press release. “The upcoming launch campaigns currently underway at the Spaceport in French Guiana are proceeding as scheduled.”