Launch 2020: Europe’s Ambitions Frustrated by Pandemic, Booster Failure

The Ariane 5 for Flight VA251 departs the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch zone with its EUTELSAT KONNECT and GSAT-30 satellite passengers. (Credit: Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Last year was a tough one for Europe in terms of launches. The COVID-19 pandemic closed the Guiana Space Centre for extended periods. And the most troubled of the three rockets launched from the spaceport had another bad day.

Despite the problems, there were seven launches from French Guiana in 2020, with six successes and one failure. Five of the flights involved European rockets, and two others were Russian Soyuz boosters.

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Northrop Grumman and Intelsat Make History with Satellite Docking of Second Mission Extension Vehicle

An image of Intelsat 10-02 taken by MEV-2’s infrared wide field of view camera at 15m away. (Credit: SpaceLogistics)

DULLES, Va., April 12, 2021 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, SpaceLogistics LLC, have successfully completed the docking of the Mission Extension Vehicle-2 (MEV-2) to the Intelsat 10-02 (IS-10-02) commercial communications satellite to deliver life-extension services. The docking was completed at 1:34 p.m. EST.

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Intelsat Announces Successful Launch of Galaxy 30 Satellite and Northrop Grumman’s Second Mission Extension Vehicle

The Ariane 5 for Arianespace’s Flight VA253 was equipped with a new vehicle equipment bay that enabled the launcher’s payload capacity to be increased. (Credit: Arianespace)

McLean, Va., August 15, 2020 (Intelsat PR) – Intelsat, operator of the world’s largest integrated satellite and terrestrial network, announced the successful launch of Galaxy 30, a geosynchronous communications satellite that will primarily provide high-performance television distribution service to Intelsat’s North American customers.

Northrop Grumman’s Mission Extension Vehicle 2 (MEV-2) was part of the same successful launch on Saturday. The Intelsat 10-02 satellite is scheduled to be its first customer in early 2021.

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Ariane 5 Launch Set for Friday

Ariane 5 launches on Feb. 18, 2020. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace Flight VA253 – which will utilize an increased-lift Ariane 5 version – is a “go” for launch on August 14 following an additional Launch Readiness Review (LRR) performed today in French Guiana.

This approval clears the way for Ariane 5’s return to the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch zone tomorrow, followed by the final countdown leading to an evening liftoff on Friday.

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Arianespace to Launch Three Satellites Towards Geostationary Orbit on July 28

Ariane 5 launches on Feb. 18, 2020. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — Final step in Ariane 5 latest performance improvement program decided in 2016, Flight VA253 brings the total increase in payload capacity to 300 kg since then.

The two of the three companies whose satellites are being launched are both long-standing customers – Intelsat for 37 years and B-SAT for 23 years – clearly proving the excellence of Arianespace’s service offering and long-term customer relations.

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Northrop Grumman’s Second Mission Extension Vehicle and Galaxy 30 Satellite Begin Launch Preparations in French Guiana

The second Mission Extension Vehicle and the company-built Galaxy 30 spacecraft have been delivered to the launch site and are scheduled for liftoff in late July. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

The spacecraft will launch together on an Arianespace 5 rocket; MEV-2 set to dock with Intelsat satellite in early 2021

DULLES, Va., June 30, 2020 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) announced today the arrival of the company-built Galaxy 30 (G-30) spacecraft for Intelsat and the Mission Extension Vehicle 2 (MEV-2) at the launch site in Kourou, French Guiana. The vehicles are scheduled to launch late July 2020, in a stacked configuration onboard an Ariane 5 rocket.

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