Ariane 5 Lofts Measat-3b, Optus-10 Telecommunications Satellites

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PARIS — Europe’s Ariane 5 ECA heavy-lift rocket on Sept. 11 successfully placed into orbit commercial telecommunications satellites for Malaysian and Australian satellite operators. It was the vehicle’s 61st consecutive success.

The Measat-3b satellite, riding in the Ariane 5’s upper berth, weighed 5,897 kilograms at launch and carries 48 Ku-band transponders to bolster Measat’s direct-broadcast television service and extend Measat’s reach to new customers.

The satellite, built by Europe’s Airbus Defence and Space, also carries an experimental S-band transponder. Measat-3b will operate at 91.5 degrees east, where it will be co-located with the Measat-3 and Measat-3a satellites.

Measat’s Astro television broadcast service provider, which beams 140 channels, is moving rapidly to a high-definition broadcast format, which now accounts for 15 percent of its broadcasts.

Riding in the Ariane 5 lower position, usually reserved for satellites weighing less than 3,500 kilograms, was Australia’s Optus-10 for SingTel Optus. Optus-10 was built by Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, California. It carries 24 Ku-band transponders and will operate at 164 degrees east.

Optus-10 was subject to multiple delays that, in turn, caused months-long delays for the satellite’s different co-passengers, forcing launch service provider Arianespace to find replacement small satellites for upper-berth customers.

Measat was the last of the operators to be delayed by Optus-10. Measat Chief Executive Paul Brown-Kenyon said Sept. 8 that the delay of some eight months, while a problem, did not cause any Measat customer to quit the service and sign on with a competing fleet operator.