Ariane 5’s 100th Launch a Complete Success

Ariane 5 lifts off (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace has successfully launched two communications satellites: Horizons 3e for Intelsat and SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation, and Azerspace-2/Intelsat 38 for Azercosmos and Intelsat.

The launch took place on Tuesday, September 25, 2018 at 19:38 pm (local time) from the Guiana Space Center (CSG), Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana (South America).

This was Arianespace’s sixth mission of the year, as well as the 100th mission by the Ariane 5 heavy launcher. In 22 years of operations, Ariane 5 has orbited a total of 207 satellites.

Today’s launch also marked the 300th mission by the Arianespace family of launchers, reflecting the company’s ongoing role in support of leading satellite operators, both regional and global.

Ariane 5 No. 100: a total success

Today’s mission marks a double milestone in the history of Arianespace: the 100th launch of an Ariane 5 since this heavy launcher entered service in 1996, and the 300th launch for the Arianespace family of launchers, which currently comprises Ariane 5, the Soyuz medium launcher and the Vega light launcher. Including this latest mission, Ariane 5 has now orbited a total of 207 satellites for 68 customers, representing a combined weight of more than 790 metric tons.

In its 22-year career, Ariane 5 has been produced in five different versions: Ariane 5 G, G+, GS, ES and ECA.

The Ariane 5 ES has been launched eight times since 2008, while the Ariane 5 ECA has carried out 62 launches into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) since 2002. It has increased payload capacity by 15% since entering service and set a record for net payload weight into GTO on June 1, 2017, at 9,969 kg.

Over the years, Ariane 5 has clearly established itself as the benchmark launcher for geostationary missions, with 170 satellites injected into GTO, including 153 communications satellites. More than half of all satellites orbited by this heavy launcher were on behalf of non-European operators, making Ariane 5 an export champion.

Throughout its career, Ariane 5 has launched a number of emblematic European missions: XMM-Newton in 1999, Envisat in 2002, Rosetta in 2004, Hershel and Planck in 2009, five launches of the ATV resupply vessel for the International Space Station from 2008 to 2014, and three launches to date for Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system between 2016 and July 25, 2018. On October 19 of this year, Ariane 5 will boost the BepiColombo spacecraft towards Mercury, on a mission for the European Space Agency (ESA) in partnership with Japanese space agency JAXA.

The last batch of Ariane 5 rockets will be operated concurrently with Ariane 6 starting in 2020, before Ariane 6 reaches full operational capacity, which is slated for 2023.

A successful launch for three loyal customers: Intelsat, SKY Perfect JSAT and Azercosmos

Installed as Ariane 5’s upper passenger on today’s launch, Flight VA243, Horizons 3e is owned by a joint venture between Intelsat and SKY Perfect JSAT.

Horizons 3e completes the Intelsat EpicNG network’s global coverage. Featuring unrivaled performance, redundancy and resilience, it will offer high-speed broadband connectivity to mobile service providers and government customers. Horizons 3e will bring the next level of high-throughput services to the Asia-Pacific region and expanding coverage in the Pacific Ocean. The all-digital Horizons 3e payload represents a continued evolution of the award-winning Intelsat EpicNG platform.

Chicago-headquartered Boeing is the prime contractor of Horizons 3e.

Ariane 5 once again seamlessly supports the unique partnership between Intelsat, SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation and Arianespace, an alliance that reaches back over 35 years.

Installed as the lower passenger on this launch, Azerspace-2/Intelsat 38 is a multi-mission satellite that will be positioned at 45° East.

For the second time, Arianespace will support the development of Azercosmos – the premier satellite operator in the South Caucasus region – by launching Azerbaijan’s second geostationary satellite, Azerspace-2. It will be Azercosmos’ second telecommunications satellite and is to expand on the current capacity of Azerspace-1. The satellite will offer enhanced capacity, coverage and service offerings to support growing demand in the region for Direct-to-Home (DTH), government and network services in Europe, Central and South Asia, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Intelsat 38 will provide Ku-band capabilities and be located at 45° East. It will deliver continuity of service for the Intelsat 12 satellite and host Direct-to-Home television platforms for the Central and Eastern Europe and Asia-Pacific regions. The satellite will also provide critical broadband connectivity for corporate network and government services in Africa.

California-based SSL, a Maxar Technologies company, is the prime contractor of Azerspace-2/Intelsat 38.

Shortly after the announcement of the orbital injection of the two satellites, Stéphane Israël, Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace, said: “With this sixth launch of the year, Arianespace is proud to have placed its 100th Ariane 5 mission at the service of our American, Japanese and Azeri customers.”

“It clearly symbolizes the long string of successes achieved by our heavy launcher on the commercial export market, representing more than half of all satellites it has orbited. We are very honored that Intelsat, a key customer for Arianespace, entrusted us with two satellites on the same mission – the 60th and 61st we have orbited for the American operator since 1983.

“I would also like to congratulate SKY Perfect JSAT, which partnered with Intelsat on Horizons 3e, the 20th satellite we have launched for our Japanese partner. And I would like to thank Azercosmos, which is sharing the Azerspace-2/Intelsat 38 satellite with Intelsat, for having chosen us for their second geostationary satellite. Of course, my congratulations to Boeing and SSL, builders of Horizons 3e and Azerspace-2/Intelsat 38, respectively.

“In closing, my thanks go to all our partners on this latest Ariane 5 success: ArianeGroup and all companies involved in the construction of Ariane; ESA, which provides key support for the Ariane program; CNES, our ground segment companies and all staff at the space center. Congratulations to everyone at Arianespace who contributed to this very successful 300th mission by our family of launchers. The Ariane 5 story continues, with its next mission, to the planet Mercury, coming up next month!”

  • ThomasLMatula

    Congratulations! It has served Europe well.

  • windbourne

    Wow. For some odd reason, I thought it was a lot more. The line is 22 years old, meaning ~5-6/ year.
    Hopefully, the Ariane 7 will do a good job of replacing the 5.

  • duheagle

    I think you mean the Ariane 6.

  • windbourne

    Ariane 6 is going to be a major failing for Airbus.
    Without the re-use, it just can not economically compete against SX and BO.
    So, it will have to be 7 when ESA figures it out that they MUST have re-use to compete.

  • Zed_WEASEL

    The original ULA plan was to do the upper stage first than the large liquid engine for the Atlas replacement core. Unfortunately geo-polities intervened and inverted the order of the upgrade process. It appears the ACES upper stage might not happen before the mid-2020s at the earliest due to funding shortfall. So ULA is heading toward oblivion from the plundering of the parents.

  • duheagle

    Okay, I see what you were getting at.

    Perhaps the Euros will still be willing to try ginning up a notional “Ariane 7” in the event – which I agree seems quite likely – that Ariane 6 proves to be a trainwreck in the commercial launch market. But, given that the whole Ariane entity is now privatized – or what passes for privatized in Europe, anyway – it’s hardly obvious Airbus-Safran would front several more billions to come up with a vehicle that would not see service until the very late 2020’s at the earliest and probably be no more reusable than today’s Falcon 9. Big European multinationals are even more stodgy and risk-averse than our own.

  • duheagle

    That seems, sadly, to be increasingly likely to be the case.

  • windbourne

    Ideally, none of the nations/companies will try for regular rocket re-use. Instead, skylon makes sense, but I wonder about that combined with maglev track?
    Or perhaps an electric engine.
    Basically, new cheaper forms of space flight need to be looked at.
    In addition, the smart move is for some of these groups to focus on other items such as lunar/mars landers, tugs, etc.
    Right now, focusing on cheap launch is probably a mistake.

  • duheagle

    Okay, now you’ve lost me again. You do realize, I hope, that you have come out both for pursuing and not pursuing cheap launch in the same comment with only a single sentence separating the two admonitions? “Do not ask the Elves for they will say ‘Yes’ and they will say ‘No.'” Who knew you were an Elf?

    Skylon really makes no sense and never has. The Reaction Engines technology has a lot of potential uses, most of them military, but the company seems obssessively focused on the unicorn SSTO that is – or would be – Skylon. Earth’s gravitational field strength and the Rocket Equation combine to make any buildable SSTO always an economic also-ran to any two-stage completely reusable system built with comparable structure technology.

    Skylon would burn LH2 which requires twice the tankage volume, and is both much harder to handle and quite a bit more expensive than the LNG slated for use in BFR, New Glenn and one presumes – New Armstrong.

    Terrestrial maglev track is a very expensive and space-consuming technology that offers nothing in the way of a “stage zero” boost that is not much more straightforwardly, and cheaply, accomplished via air launch – e.g., Stratolaunch. Air launch has the additional benefits of getting one’s rocket to an altitude where vacuum-optimized engine bells are practical on all additional stages of one’s vehicle, saving the supersonic phases of ascent from starting until miles above sea level and moving the noisiest and most dangerous parts of the flight well away from any NIMBY’s.

    And, unless your reference to an “electric engine” is a very elliptical way of pointing at some form – laser or microwave-based – of directed energy launch system, electricity can play no constructive near-term role in launch services that begin at Earth’s surface.